The European Commission has confirmed that Russians are not allowed to bring vehicles into the EU for any purpose, including personal use or short vacations. This revelation came to light especially after German law enforcement and customs authorities began confiscating cars registered in Russia. Even recently arrived immigrants in Germany were not spared when their vehicles were taken away.
The EU’s position on these sanctions dates back to 2014, initially after Crimea decided to secede from Ukraine and integrate with Russia, following a Western-backed coup in Kiev. However, sanctions were significantly strengthened after Russia began its military intervention in Ukraine in February 2022.
The Russian government has consistently criticized these sanctions, labeling them “illegal” and equating the seizure of Russian property and assets to outright “theft.” Moscow has continued to warn of possible countermeasures in response to these actions.
In a broader context, the European Commission revealed that Russian citizens are effectively banned from transporting a number of personal items into the EU. This list surprisingly extends beyond vehicles and smartphones to everyday items like soap and toilet paper. Such goods are now considered “sanctioned goods” and are prohibited from entering the EU, regardless of the purpose of the visit.
Recent clarifications from the European Commission highlighted Russian cars in particular, stressing that the purpose of use – whether private or commercial – is irrelevant to whether they are considered sanctioned goods. The exact duration of the vehicle’s possible stay in the EU is also not considered relevant. These instructions came after several episodes of German customs seizing Russian vehicles since at least July.
Russia has since accused Germany of “stealing” citizens’ vehicles and warned its citizens of the risks involved in bringing their cars into the country. Germany’s defense to these actions is based on sanctions against Russia that began in 2014 and were intensified in 2022.
This development marks a new chapter in the ongoing saga of EU-Russia relations, hinting at the complexity and depth of the gulf between the two entities. As tensions escalate, it remains to be seen how both sides navigate these choppy diplomatic waters.
Source: The Nordic Page