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8 Kas 2023

Milos Katic,
Mirjana Jevtovic,
Maja Zivanovic, RFE/RL

Serbian companies export sanctioned dual-use technology to Russia, new investigation shows; incl. cos. comments

Investigation: Serbian firms ship sanctioned dual-use tech to Russia, 8 November 2023

Serbian companies are exporting dual-use goods to Russia that have been targeted by Western sanctions due to their use in Russian armaments deployed in Ukraine - despite a pledge by President Aleksandar Vucic that his country would not serve as a conduit for circumventing U.S. and EU sanctions.

Dual-use goods can be used for both military and civilian purposes and, among the recipients of these exports from Serbia to Russia is an IT supplier hit with U.S. sanctions in September in what Washington described as an effort to deprive Russian President Vladimir Putin "of the equipment, technology, and services he needs to wage his barbaric war on Ukraine," a new investigation by RFE/RL's Balkan Service has found.

Customs records from international trade databases analyzed by RFE/RL show that Serbian companies have shipped at least $71.1 million in sanctioned dual-use goods to Russia since Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The shipments analyzed by reporters include the kinds of electronics and other equipment categorized as "high priority" by the United States and the EU due to their use in Russian armaments recovered from Ukrainian battlefields...

Despite the calls from Brussels to align its policies with the EU, Serbia has maintained its historically close ties with Moscow throughout the conflict and remains one of the few European governments that has not imposed sanctions on Russia over its aggression in Ukraine.

President Vucic, however, told EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi in December 2022 that "no one can bypass the sanctions against Russia through the territory of Serbia," adding that his country was "not making money from anyone's suffering during the war."

Vucic's office did not respond to a request for comment on Serbian shipments of sanctioned dual-use technology to Russia...

The Serbian company Kominvex was incorporated in 2005 and, until last year, specialized in wholesale parts and equipment for motor vehicles. The company's website still offers car and truck parts, with a special emphasis on tractors...

Kominvex shipments of dual-use goods began the month after Russia's February 2022 invasion and continued at least until August 2023, the customs records show. The exported goods included microchips, processors, disk-storage devices, and digital cable communication systems.

Customs records analyzed by RFE/RL's Balkan Service show that Kominvex exported goods worth $143.9 million to Russia from the end of March 2022 until the end of July 2023, of which $54.3 million fall into "high-priority" categories of electronics and equipment that the United States and the EU have targeted for export controls due to their use in Russian weapons recovered in Ukraine.

Reached by phone, Kominvex owner Marko Svorcan, a Serbian citizen, declined to answer questions about his business...

The company, Soha Info, is based in the town of Novi Banovci, about 30 kilometers northwest of Belgrade. Between October 2022 and July 2023, the company exported goods worth $18 million to Russia, the records show.

Among these shipments were $6.3 million in electronics identified by the United States and the EU as "high-priority" dual-use goods, as they were being used in Russian weapons in Ukraine, including $4.3 million in Intel products...

Soha Info's owner, a Serbian citizen named Dragan Dragas, declined to discuss his company's work with Russian partners when reached by RFE/RL's Balkan Service. He described his business as "just some trade" and denied that he dealt in sanctioned goods. He then ended the conversation.

Serbian media reported in August that another Serbian company, Goodforwarding, was exporting sanctioned goods to Russia. In response to an inquiry from RFE/RL's Balkan Service, the company said it was incorporated in 2022 for the export of bananas to Russia but was unable to carry out any commercial activity due to bank restrictions. In a written statement, Goodforwarding added that "someone is using" its company data "to import sanctioned goods."

To date, the United States has imposed sanctions on just one Serbian company over its role as a supplier of sanctioned dual-use goods to Russia...

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