UAE to join technology sanctions against Russia

The United Arab Emirates is considering imposing export controls on Russia – similar to those imposed by the U.S. and the European Union as part of sanctions.

Bloomberg reports, citing sources familiar with the situation, that the UAE measures could affect chips and dozens of other dual-use items that could be used for weapons production. If export controls are invoked, a license from the UAE government will be required to supply such products to Russia.

After the outbreak of war and the imposition of sanctions, the Emirates became one of the largest hubs for parallel imports to Russia: thousands of companies opened representative offices in Dubai, where, according to Fortune estimates, up to 30% of wealthy Russians moved along with their money. This has angered European and U.S. officials, who have visited the UAE at least three times this year to persuade local authorities to crack down on sanctions violations.

The last such visit took place in September 2023, Bloomberg sources say: delegations from the U.S., Britain and the EU expressed concern that the Emirates remains a transit hub through which sub-sanctioned products reach Russia.

Western diplomats are now insisting that the UAE impose export controls on 45 commodity items, including high-tech products. Among them, for example, are electronics for drones, cruise missiles and helicopters used in the war against Ukraine. The UAE has not yet made a final decision on joining the technological sanctions against Russia, Bloomberg sources emphasize. In return, the Emirates expect to be excluded from the “gray list” of FATF (Financial Action Task Force) countries.

Previous visits of Western officials to the UAE have ended badly for Russian companies. In winter, Deputy Treasury Secretary and supervisor of U.S. financial intelligence Brian Nelson warned local officials about the readiness to impose sanctions against companies and individuals who help circumvent measures against Russia. A few days after Nelson’s visit, Sberbank was forced to close its subsidiary in the UAE, and two weeks later the local regulator revoked the banking license of MTS Bank’s subsidiary.

In April, it became known that the UAE’s second largest bank by assets, Emirates NBD (ENBD), began blocking the investment accounts of clients from Russia who transferred assets stored in European depositories to Dubai.

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