January 12, 2023

IntelBrief: Russia Using the United Arab Emirates as a Sanctions Evasion Hub

Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP

Bottom Line up Front

  • Wealthy Russians have been able to use loopholes in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to evade the effect of U.S. and European Union sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
  • The free-wheeling economic climate long promoted by UAE leaders as well as its vibrant gold trade creates an enabling environment for Russians to evade sanctions.
  • The lax enforcement of Russia sanctions reflects the view of UAE leadership that Russia remains a significant actor in the Middle East region, particularly Syria.
  • The Emirates remains a significant U.S. security and economic partner, contributing to U.S. reluctance to punish the UAE for Russia sanctions evasion, although other countries have surely noticed this selective enforcement.