Finnish Customs check a car at the Vaalimaa border check point between Finland and Russia in Virolahti, Finland on September 28, 2022 as traffic from Russia enters to Finland and Europe's open-borders Schengen area. LEHTIKUVA

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As the Ukraine war marks its two-year anniversary on February 24, 2024, Finnish Customs reports significant strides in enforcing EU sanctions against Russia, highlighting its active role in international compliance efforts. Over the past two years, Finnish Customs has detected approximately 29,000 discrepancies in goods traffic, conducted 2,800 targeted controls, and initiated over 740 preliminary investigations into breaches against sanctions.

The European Union has progressively tightened sanctions on Russia in response to its aggression towards Ukraine, emphasizing the importance of comprehensive coverage and uniform enforcement across member states. Finnish Customs underscores the crucial role of corporate responsibility in avoiding sanctions circumvention, pointing to the sophisticated measures employed by entities attempting to bypass restrictions.

Sami Rakshit, Director of the Enforcement Department at Finnish Customs, emphasizes the need for continuous development and adaptation of sanctions. He notes the agency's efforts in tightening the enforcement net through innovative measures, including the investigation of forged documents, the analysis of complex business ownership structures, and the scrutiny of irregular transport routes.

Rakshit also highlights future strategies for enhancing sanctions impact, such as collaborating with Central Asian countries to monitor goods transfers, thereby closing gaps exploited for circumvention. He stresses the increasing responsibility of businesses in international trade to scrutinize their operations and partners meticulously to prevent indirect support of sanction evasion.

The reduction in Finnish trade with Russia is notable, with exports and imports experiencing a drastic decline from December 2021 to December 2023. This shift reflects the broader impact of sanctions and the war on regional trade patterns, with goods traffic adapting to new routes through the Baltic countries following the closure of Finland’s eastern land border with Russia.

Finnish Customs' proactive measures in sanctions enforcement and its call for heightened corporate vigilance illustrate the complex landscape of international trade under geopolitical tensions. As the conflict in Ukraine persists, Finland’s commitment to upholding EU sanctions showcases the multifaceted approach required to navigate and enforce international regulations effectively.

HT

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