Sanctions against Russia are not working, says UAE trade official

Western sanctions against Russia have not impacted trade outside of the West, said Hamad Buamim, chair of the Dubai Multi Commodities Center, in comments to the Financial Times published on May 29.

Despite more than a dozen rounds of EU sanctions against Russia and associated measures from the U.S. and other Western partners, Russia’s economy has remained resilient. While Russia’s business ties with the West have shrunk, other countries outside of Europe have increasingly taken advantage of the opportunities.

Throughout Russia’s full-scale war, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has maintained economic and cultural ties with Russia but has also signed new trade agreements with Ukraine.

Sanctions slow the economy, (they) never stop it,” said Buamim. “Trade continues flowing, it just flows in a different way.”

Even as the West has pressured the UAE to crack down against sanctions evasion and to take measures against companies that continue to trade with Russia, Dubai has emerged as one of the main beneficiaries of Russia’s reoriented economic relations.

“The fact that the economy is not purely controlled by one side of the world makes these sanctions less effective,” Baumim said.

“If we just take the Ukraine conflict, (sanctions) are effective when you look west, but they are not really effective beyond that.”

Many companies have relocated to Dubai in the aftermath of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but Baumim said the shift was often not limited to Russian companies.

“(Companies from other countries) see that Dubai has the infrastructure, the market access, and the neutral stance (on the war in Ukraine),” Baumim said.

International companies with Russian staff that have had to leave Russia have also found Dubai to be a place where their Russian employees would be welcome, he added.

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