Toothless EU 2014 embargo on export of weapons to Russia finally enforced on 8 April 2022 

Removal of loophole covered up by EU – not mentioned in latest sanctions press release

In our previous report of 25 March on EU arms sales to Russia between 2014-2020 we revealed how a clause allowed weapons contracts to continue to be fulfilled if they were signed before the embargo became effective.

Facts4EU has now learnt that the loophole was only closed 11 days ago – fully 43 days after the Russians invaded the Ukraine.

Last month we published the latest figures available – up until 2020. The sobering facts are that arms sales in 2021 actually increased by 56% over the previous year. So embarrassed is the EU that it did not include the closing of the loophole in its press statement announcing the latest (fifth) round of sanctions on Russia.

How the EU tried to cover up its shame

In early July 2014 the EU introduced an embargo on arms sales to Russia, effective on 01 August that year – giving arms dealers weeks to sign-up new deals that could then beat the embargo.

This resulted in €352.4m of sales of military equipment and ammunition to Russia between 2014-20 – of which France accounted for €233.7m. The UK sold zero.

Facts4EU can now reveal that in 2021:

  • EU countries sold Russia weapons and ammunition worth €39m
  • This was a 56% increase against the sales of €25m in 2020
  • Struggling to get agreement, the EU has introduced gradual rounds of sanctions against Russia
  • It was only in the fifth round of sanctions the arms sales loophole was closed
  • The change was made by a legal text published in the EU journal of 8 April
  • An embarrassed EU chose not to mention its action in the sanctions press release
  • The EU Commission did not propose the closure of the loophole
  • It was only pressure from Poland and Lithuania that won agreement from EU states

The value of EU27 arms export licences issued AFTER Putin first invaded Ukraine

  • Total EU27 arms export licences issued from 2014-2020 : €1.495 BILLION
  • Arms export licences were still being issued by France and Austria in 2020

The EU admits its shame by hiding its latest embargo
It took not one, not two, not three, not even four, but five – YES, FIVE – rounds of published sanctions before the EU took the brave pills and decided to close its own loophole that had allowed the sales of EU weapons and ammunition to Russia for fully 43 days after Putin's military illegally invaded the Ukraine.

Just think about that.

While the UK did not break the embargo of 2014 at all, selling no military equipment or ammunition since that date, the EU members (especially France and also Austria) continued their sales using a loophole allowing contracts to continue if they were signed before the embargo took effect on 1 August 2014.

Hiding the evidence
The loophole could have been closed immediately but it was allowed to continue because the EU Commission feared it would not get agreement. The result was the continued provision of weapons of war to Russia – weapons that could kill civilian men, women and children.

When on 11 April the EU did finally decide to pass the regulations to enforce its own ban properly it could not even find the stomach to announce its actions, as that would have given prominence to the fact the loophole had existed for EIGHT years.

This is another example where the EU has not covered itself in glory. Once again it has shown weakness and procrastination. And despite all of this it still thinks it should have an army…. 

This article first appeared on Facts4EU.org