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The US will launch a renewed crackdown on countries and individuals helping the Kremlin evade western sanctions amid growing fears Russia is fuelling the war in Ukraine by funnelling imports through countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.

The push by the US Treasury, commerce and justice departments, details of which were obtained by the Financial Times, comes as western allies increasingly believe Turkey and the UAE, as well as countries in central Asia and the Caucasus, have emerged as the weak links in their efforts to isolate Russia both economically and militarily. An announcement is expected later on Thursday.

“Those who attempt to prop up Putin’s war machine by evading our export controls and sanctions will be held accountable,” Matthew Axelrod, assistant secretary of commerce for export enforcement, said in a statement.

Elizabeth Rosenberg, the assistant Treasury secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, said at a closed event on Thursday that the UAE was also a “country of focus” for the US.

Rosenberg said that UAE companies exported more than $18mn worth of goods to “US-designated Russian entities” between July and November of 2022. She added that $5mn of that was “US-origin, US-export controlled goods to Russia”, including “semiconductor devices, some of which can be used on the battlefield”.

“These types of figures are the basis for our engagement with the private sector, so that we can clarify the consequences of violating sanctions and export controls, discuss high-risk activity, and act when necessary,” she said.

As part of their effort, the three US agencies will issue a “compliance note” on the “use of third-party intermediaries or transshipment points to evade Russian- and Belarusian-related sanctions and export controls”.

This includes a list of “red flags” businesses should be looking out for in terms of potential sanctions evasion, singling out specific states including China, Armenia, Turkey and Uzbekistan that western allies say are commonly used as “transshipment points” in order to “illegally redirect restricted items to Russia or Belarus”.

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