Armenia Faces Scrutiny Over Surge In EU Imports Amid Sanctions Concerns

Armenia’s trade surge from EU raises suspicions of sanctions circumvention, drawing attention from US Treasury and analysts.

<p>Armenia’s capital Yerevan, the Armenian government has maintained its commitment to uphold international obligations in the recent surge of imports from EU. SEROUJ OURISHIAN VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.</p>

Armenia, a landlocked country and officially known as the Republic of Armenia is found in the Armenian Highlands. It is geographically part of Western Asia but culturally and geopolitically considered part of Eastern Europe. A developing country, it is slowly transitioning towards a market economy and currently faces ongoing political and territorial disputes with neighboring Azerbaijan. 


In the recent past, the country has experienced a surge in goods shipments from the European Union (EU) which has raised concerns about potential sanctions circumvention. However, the Armenian government maintains its commitment to upholding international obligations with the marked increase of imports from the EU. 


Some analysts, like Robin Brooks, the former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), allege that this surge is linked to Armenia potentially acting as a conduit to indirectly supply goods to Russia, which faces sanctions imposed by the EU and other countries. Brooks claims that these goods are likely being “repackaged and sent off to Moscow.”


“In the long and glorious history of the Armenian customs police, never before has such a massive surge in goods shipments from the EU been successfully processed. Not to mention then repackaging all this stuff and bundling it off to Moscow, which is where it’s really going,” said Robin Brooks in a post on his X page. 


Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US, along with the EU and other countries, imposed extensive economic sanctions against Russia. These sanctions are designed to restrict Russia’s access to essential goods, technology, and financial resources to pressure them to end the war.


The US Treasury Department has explicitly warned about the potential for sanctions evasion through Armenia and other countries in the region. They have taken action by imposing sanctions on specific Armenian companies and individuals suspected of involvement in bypassing the restrictions placed on Russia.


Various U.S. Departments including the Treasury through press statements are issuing business advisories to help ensure that businesses, individuals, and organizations have the information necessary to inform their considerations regarding the range of heightened risks associated with doing business in or engaging in transactions involving the Russian Federation or Russia-occupied territories of Ukraine.  This includes business activities that involve the Russian military-industrial base that may not otherwise directly addressed by sanctions, export controls, or other trade restrictions.


The Armenian government however has maintained its commitment to upholding international obligations with the marked increase of imports from the EU and other countries including China.