Crimea annexation: How EU firms skirt sanctions to do business in Crimea – Reuters

11:10 Sep. 22, 2016

How EU firms skirt sanctions to do business in Crimea – Reuters

People enter a Metro cash and carry store in Simferopol, Crimea, July 4, 2016. Photo by REUTERS/Anton Zverev

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.

Read also: International trade with Crimea ongoing despite sanctions - OCCRP

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.

Read also: US sanctions firms of Putin's allies building Kerch Bridge in annexed Crimea

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.'

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