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EU threatens new drone component bans to countries still re-exporting to Russia, Iran

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 28, 2023 5:02 PM 3 min read
An Iranian-made Shahed 131/136 kamikaze drone, a model often used by Russian forces in airstrikes against Ukraine. (Source: Southern Operational Command/Telegram)
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The European Commission has warned Western firms and governments it could ban the export of certain components to some third-party countries from where Russia and Iran source drone parts, the Guardian reported on Sept. 28.

The EU is working closely with the countries in question on a diplomatic level to prevent the re-export of sanctioned goods, the Commission's spokesperson told the Guardian.

However, should these efforts prove insufficient, "the only remaining option is to stop exporting to those third countries the very specific goods we are most concerned about, using the EU's anti-circumvention tool," the spokesperson said.

This tool would prevent the EU countries from exporting goods to those countries that help Russia and Iran circumvent the sanctions.

The EU's statement follows the Guardian's earlier report on a leaked Ukrainian document submitted to the Group of Seven (G7) countries in August.

According to the letter, Shahed-type drones using Western components have been used in at least 600 strikes on Ukraine.

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The drones, produced in Iran and first used in attacks against Ukraine in September 2022, are cheap to manufacture and, when used in swarms, can be "a headache" for Ukrainian air defense, Air Force spokesperson Yurii Ihnat said.

Russia has been successful also in producing its own domestic-made copies of the Iranian drones.

According to the leaked document, there was no sign of deliberate wrongdoing on the part of Western companies, as Iran utilizes regular commercial components for its drone production.

The Ukrainian report said that almost all imports to Iran came from Turkey, India, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Costa Rica.

The Western countries have been seeking to thwart Moscow's ability to circumvent sanctions imposed against it in response to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The EU's latest 11th package was focused, among others, on curbing Russia's ability to obtain dual-use technologies that could be utilized for weapons production.

On Sept. 27, the U.S. Department of Treasury imposed sanctions against international companies and individuals supporting Iran's production of Shahed drones.

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