Slovak customs officials have authorized the export of thousands of items used for the production of supplies for the Russian army since the start of the war in Ukraine in February, Dennik N reports.
Exported items include bearings, motors, electronics and machinery used in the production of tire components and can be used in the production of tanks, armored vehicles, missile systems or even intercontinental ballistic missile carriers . Many items can be dual-use.
For example, the Ukrainian military found an Austrian Rotax 912 engine, typically used in light civilian aircraft, in one of the Iranian drones that were shot down. The engine’s producer, Austrian company Rotax, denied shipping its engines to Iran, although the Slovak customs office authorized a small Slovak company to export the engine in April.
Many shipments went directly to Russian companies, which are subsidiaries of the Russian military. In March, Slovak customs authorized the export of the entire production line of oversized tires to a company in Russian Tatarstan.
According Dennik Nin most cases it is not known whether the exporters were Slovak companies or whether they came from other Member States.
“We do not decide whether the goods exported to Russia will be used by the Russian military or not,” the financial administration responsible for customs offices said in the statement. He also denied that any of the goods exported were dual-use.
Defense Minister Jaroslav Nai sees the issue as a problem and has promised a comprehensive overhaul.
According to a source from the Czech customs office, the problem is that the Slovak authorities do not investigate the exported goods. “We issue hundreds of licenses each year and review each individual export of dual-use goods. In Slovakia, the cases examined are in units,” the source said.
“It’s a security breach and Slovakia is the weak link in all of this,” he added.
“It is striking that the Czech Republic has very different export figures than Slovakia. Moreover, Slovakia has a similar economic orientation and the discrepancy in official export figures is so large that it raises a number of questions,” said Pavel Havlíček, an expert from the Association for International Affairs.
EURACTIV asked the European Commission whether this case could be considered a violation of the sanctions imposed by the European Union on Russia.
“Member States are responsible for implementing EU sanctions. The European Commission is not competent to assess individual cases of application of sanctions,” replied a Commission spokesperson.
(Michal Hudec | EURACTIV.sk)