Europe still imports €13 billion worth of critical raw materials from Russia. Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, the EU has adopted 11 packages of sanctions against Moscow, covering a variety of goods, from oil to timber. However, supplies of many types of “critical” or “strategic” raw materials from Russia to Europe continue, writes Italian ‘Il Fatto Quotidiano’.
According to Eurostat and the EU Joint Research Centre, between March 2022 and July 2023, Europe imported €13.7 billion worth of such raw materials. According to the European Policy Centre, up to 90% of some types of nickel come from Russian suppliers. "Why? Because they are critical," says David O'Sullivan, EU sanctions officer.
PJSC VSMPO-AVISMA Corporation, the world's leading titanium producer, sold $308 million worth of this raw material through German and British subsidiaries. VSMPO-AVISMA is partly controlled by the defense conglomerate Rostec, and the CEO of both companies is Putin's close ally Sergei Chemezov. Chemezov and Rostec came under sanctions, but Brussels spared VSMPO-AVISMA (the United States banned exports for this company).
Among its main customers in the EU is Airbus, an aerospace giant partly controlled by France, Germany and Spain. Until March, when VSMPO-AVISMA stopped listing buyers on customs invoices, its profits quadrupled by importing at least $22.8 million worth of titanium. However, there is no evidence of a change in trend. In July, Airbus still listed the corporation as one of its suppliers. In response to a corresponding question, the company declined to comment.
Norilsk Nickel, a leading producer of palladium and nickel, exported its products to the EU through subsidiaries in Finland and Switzerland. In 2022, half of its $7.6 billion in sales came from Europe. However, the chairman of the board of directors and the main shareholder of the company, Vladimir Potanin, an oligarch and former deputy chairman of the Russian government, is currently under sanctions from the United States and Great Britain.
The German copper powder manufacturer GGP Metalpowder purchased $66 million worth of copper in Russia, the French arms manufacturer Safran purchased $25 million worth of titanium, and the Greek ElvalHalcor purchased $13 million worth of aluminum. The Dutch intermediary company C. Steinweg conducted transactions for its clients to purchase the necessary metals for one hundred million dollars.
Now EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell will propose a 12th package of sanctions, and once again there will be no critical raw materials in Europe. Will it work?..
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