In Russia, news of the European Commission’s clarifications on the import of sanctioned goods by our citizens has caused a stir.
Now it appears that a notional Russian entering an EU country may lose more than just their car. They may also have confiscated their mobile phones, cameras, toilet paper, precious metal products, cigarettes, cosmetics, soap, suitcases and bags. And, if applicable, women’s clothing and other items.
In other words, customs officers have the power to literally strip Russians crossing the border. So far, this has not happened. But it cannot be ruled out.
As part of its sanctions policy against Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine, Brussels has banned the import of a wide range of Russian goods. These include a number of items for personal use. In July 2023, there were the first signs that such items might be confiscated by customs. At the time, it was the cars of Russians that were detained by German officers. The European Commission (EC) subsequently clarified the EU’s approach to German law enforcement: The import of sanctioned goods is prohibited, even if they are for personal use.
If this interpretation is applied to the letter, the targets could become absurd.
The EU’s policy towards Russia encompasses a wide range of embargoes. These include blocking financial sanctions, sectoral restrictions, transport and visa bans, export controls on a wide range of products and a ban on imports of a number of goods from the country.