Unprecedented sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine were designed to cripple the country’s economy and penalize Putin and his associates. However, the complexity of the sanctions network is also weighing on European nations who are struggling to navigate the measures aimed at penalizing Russia. According to a new report from the wall street journal, around 8,000 luxury cars destined for Russia are stuck in the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium as authorities struggle to interpret and enforce sanctions against Russia. The massive car accumulation in the port includes thousands of luxury vehicles arriving from Asia in the first week of April, including some of the newest Cadillac, Mercedes and Lexus models.
All of the cars stuck at the port were supposed to be shipped to Russia, but they were subject to a luxury ban that prohibits the export of vehicles worth more than €50,000 (about $54,000). Zeebrugge port officials say more than 1,000 containers en route to Russia have been blocked from being sent to Russia for checks. Zeebrugge is one of the largest vehicle transshipment ports in Europe which sees the movement of over two million cars per year. However, it is not just Zeebrugge but many other export hubs across Europe that are facing similar issues.
“There is a lot of confusion and we need the authorities to come up with a list of ships we should be monitoring,” said Isabelle Ryckbost, secretary general of the European Seaports Organization, a trade body grouping Europe’s biggest ports. EU. “Supply chains are already massively disrupted, and delays in verifying which vessels and products are banned are adding to the pressure.” ESPO has called on the EU to deploy more staff and resources to help it determine which ships and goods are affected by the ban.
The auto industry which has been hit hard by the pandemic and the shortage of semiconductors is now struggling to cope with the war in Ukraine. “Vehicles have fallen under the luxury ban, but there’s a range of other products stuck here that have different penalties,” said Marc Adriansens, director of the port’s car terminal. “The cars probably won’t move for a long time because they will probably be sold in different markets.”