Minister warns UK carmakers as Sky report highlights ‘whack a mole’ challenge over Russia sanctions

The minister responsible for the UK’s sanctions against Russia has told UK carmakers to check their supply chains after analysis by Sky News suggested luxury models were finding their way to Moscow showrooms via ex-Soviet states.
Foreign Office minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan told a committee of MPs the report was a prime example of the “whack a mole” challenge created by the trading controls imposed on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

Sky reported on Tuesday morning that while direct British car exports to Russia had fallen to zero, that collapse had been followed by a corresponding increase in car exports to countries neighbouring Russia, most notably Azerbaijan.

The analysis, based on official HMRC trade data, showed the UK exported £273m of vehicles to Azerbaijan last year, a 1,860% increase compared with the five-year period preceding the war.
Separate figures recorded an unprecedented increase in car exports to Russia from Azerbaijan.

It has raised existing fears that other products, not just luxury cars, may be finding their way from the UK to Russia through a back door.
Responding to a question on the Sky report during evidence to the foreign affairs committee of MPs, Ms Trevelyan said she expected companies to follow the clear guidance surrounding supply chains.

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“It sets out very clearly that they shouldn’t be doing business, obviously, with Russia or potentially with a third country that might support Russia”, she said.

Image: A Moscow showroom showing at least one model for sale
The minister added: “If it appears that there is a diversionary activity to sell goods that have a potential both dual use and value, then there is a need for those businesses to consider their position and for DBT (Department for Business and Trade) and now the Office of Trade team to have conversations with them.”


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She said companies legitimately may not have seen a risk, “and I think this is the challenge of whack a mole”, she concluded.
Carmakers have insisted they are not supplying vehicles to Russia.

Its lobby group, the SMMT, said they were committed to the rules and continuing that vigilance.
It added that manufacturers “would condemn any party that puts their commitment to compliance at risk”.

Source : Sky News