The EU must strengthen its cooperation with Central Asian nations to crack down on the circumvention of sanctions targeting Russia, the EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said in a speech at the Global Gateways investment forum in Brussels on Jan. 29.
Despite Western sanctions against the export of dual-use technology or other components with potential military use to Russia, Western materials have continued to show up in Russia, often transported through third party countries.
Central Asian nations like Kyrgyzstan have seen a dramatic increase in imports since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, raising concern in the West that the spike is related to the illicit transport of sanctioned weapons components.
"In order for these sanctions to be effective, we need full cooperation from our partners," Borrell said.
"We are following closely the trade between us, between Central Asia countries, with them and Russia. We try to analyze which are the mechanisms that make sanctions being circumvented. We have to increase our cooperation on that."
Central Asia has become a significantly more important economic partner to the EU in recent years, Borrell said. But at the same time, the economic ties are linked to the "security dimension," he added.
Furthering the economic connections between the EU and Central Asia is a priority, but it should also be connected to a "political purpose," part of which is "defending the same values," Borrell said.