Nicaragua Facilitates Restricted Exports to Russia & Belarus

Transfer of containers with merchandise. Photo: Efe

The US demands greater vigilance against attempts to evade export controls after the Russian invasion of Ukraine

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – The US Department of Commerce’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued a “joint alert” urging financial institutions “to be vigilant about the efforts of individuals or entities to evade export controls” implemented against Russia and Belarus over the invasion of Ukraine.

The document warns that BIS “has identified certain transshipment points through which restricted or controlled exports are known to pass before reaching their destinations in Russia or Belarus,” including Nicaragua. 

It mentions that these points include, but are not limited to: Armenia, Brazil, China, Georgia, India, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan. 

“In some cases, controlled US items can be legally exported to these and other jurisdictions as inputs for the production of other finished products,” the statement said. 

However, the document notes that “the export to Russia or Belarus of these products and finished goods through transshipment points may be prohibited.”

It admits that recent controls and restrictions on exports from Russia and Belarus “may lead to changes in historical transshipment patterns” and that is why BIS “is actively monitoring” to identify those changes. 

It further indicates that “the list does not include all possible transshipment points, but it can help to assess the risk of export-related financial transactions.”

The relationship between Nicaragua and Russia

Since Vladimir Putin improvised a visit to Nicaragua in 2014 during a tour in Latin America, Moscow has taken Managua as one of its “main partners” in the region. The Ortega government backs the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

At the beginning of June, the official Russian television presenter, Olga Skabeeva, reported that Ortega authorized the entry of military troops, ships, and Russian planes to Nicaragua, for the second half of 2022, and that “if United States missile systems can be close to Moscow from the territory of Ukraine, it is time for Russia to deploy something powerful closer to an US city.”

Although this time it was a routine procedure, cooperation between the armies of Russia and Nicaragua always causes controversy. In February, a few days after igniting the invasion against Ukraine, the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Yuri Borisov, visited Nicaragua and announced the continuation of technological cooperation agreements between the Armed Forces of his country and the Nicaraguan Army, without giving more details.

CONFIDENCIAL published a special report on February 28, about the cooperation between the Putin regime and Ortega, in which several security experts agree that the Ortega regime’s information on this cooperation “is minimal,” while hiding the intelligence activities of the Russian satellite base of Nejapa and the police training center located in Las Colinas.

Products that aid invasion of Ukraine banned

The joint alert published by FinCEN and BIS insists that it “provides financial information to institutions with an overview of current exports and restrictions,” especially a list of products of interest of “concern,” including aircraft parts, antennas, cameras, GPS systems, among others.

To do this, it lists 22 “red flags” of behaviors that help financial institutions identify “suspicious transactions related to possible evasion of export control.” 

The document recalls that since February 24, BIS has implemented “a series of strict export controls that restrict the shipment to Russia, including access to specific technologies and other items it needs to sustain its military activity in Ukraine.” 

“These controls are mainly aimed at Russia’s defense, aerospace and maritime sectors. They also include other targets, such as Russia’s energy production sector, as well as luxury items used by Russian elites. 

It also highlights that the measures are aligned “with the export controls implemented by 37 allies and partners of the United States.” 

Effort to “decrease military capabilities”

The alert highlights that this measure represents “the most complete application” of trade authorities aimed at a single country. They explain that the United States has also applied restrictions to Belarus “in response to its significant support for Russia’s war effort.” 

“These actions are part of a coordinated international effort to apply economic pressure on Russia and Belarus to decrease the military capabilities Russia uses to wage its war, and to restrict Russia’s access to items that can support the country’s defense industrial base and military and intelligence services,” he said. 

They also “increase the costs for the Russian and Belarusian people who support the Russian government and its invasion of Ukraine.”

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times

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