11:10 Sep. 22, 2016
Germany's Metro AG and France's Auchan are seen operating in Simferopol, Crimea
Products for sale in the Crimean stores of two European retailers are being shipped there from Russia via a ferry and port that are subject to EU sanctions, people involved in the transportation said, suggesting companies are finding ways around the punitive economic regime facing Moscow since 2014.
Products carrying the brands of Germany's Metro AG and Auchan [AUCH.UL] of France are visibly for sale on the shelves of the retailers' Crimean subsidiaries.
A spokesman for Metro said Metro stores in Crimea are operated by independent Russian entities and staff that are not subject to EU sanctions.
A spokesman for Auchan, which operates one store in Crimea, said the company always operates within the rules that are in force, including European Union decisions.
Asked about the activities of the EU retailers in Crimea, an EU official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: ‘This is against the spirit of the sanctions. But in the absence of a trade embargo, there is always a fine line between compliance and non-compliance.'