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Russian military footwear companies import $ 4.1 mn worth of goods from Europe – investigation

According to the Ukrainian sanctions monitoring Trap Aggressor project, major European suppliers include the Italian company Conceria Cervinia SpA ($1.7 million), the Belarusian-German company Belintertrans Germany GmbH ($900,000), and the German company Neuhaus GmbH ($700,000).
Russian military footwear. Credit:
Russian military footwear companies import $ 4.1 mn worth of goods from Europe – investigation

Russian military footwear manufacturers have directly imported 4.1 million dollars worth of products from European companies in 2023, the Ukrainian sanctions monitoring Trap Aggressor project of the StateWatch analytical center reported

The imported goods include leather, glue, parts for shoe manufacturing equipment, and more, the project revealed after analyzing trade databases.

Major European suppliers include the Italian company Conceria Cervinia SpA ($1.7 million), the Belarusian-German company Belintertrans Germany GmbH ($900,000), and the German company Neuhaus GmbH ($700,000).

Journalists examined samples of Russian footwear recovered in Ukraine and found boots produced by the aforementioned companies. Further research into the purchasing records of the Russian manufacturers from European traders uncovered the imports.

Russian footwear that was founded on the battlefield. Credit: Trapp Aggressor

The Russian company Faraday showcased products at the Army-2023 exhibition this year. And in 2022, it received at least six Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs contracts for $50 million worth of boots.

Russian footwear that was founded on the battlefield. Credit: Trapp Aggressor

“Since early 2023, this company has purchased $1.7 million of leather and other goods from the Italian company Conceria Cervinia Spa, $300,000 worth from the German company Jakob Keck Chemie GmbH, and $80,000 from Salamander Sps GmbH & Co. Kg,” Trap Aggressor emphasized.

The Russian manufacturer Donobuv publicly stated cooperation with Russia’s Defense Ministry on its website. Russian media footage in 2022 shows the company executives discussing fulfilling state orders for the military and switching to round-the-clock production.

In 2023, Donobuv’s key European supplier was the German company Salamander Sps GmbH & Co Kg, which directly sent $60,000 of leather to Russia, Trap Aggressor added.

The Kirov Artificial Leather Factory Iskozh, officially called the Order of the Patriotic War I Degree, systematically aids the Russian military, the report revealed. In March 2023, the factory sent tourniquets to a Russian volunteer group supplying first aid kits to the army. In subsequent months, the Russian military thanked the factory for tourniquet shipments.

In August, the factory produced an experimental batch of boots for Russian reconnaissance and assault troops. The company also regularly wins bids to supply soles to Russian prison camps. Iskozh’s largest 2023 European supplier was the German company Neuhaus GmbH, which sent a $ 700,000 electric generator to the Russian firm. Neuhaus’ founder is listed as Russian.

The Russian company Yunichel also contributed to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In winter 2022, it sent all its civilian boots to the Russian Defense Ministry. At the time, Yunichel did not yet produce military footwear but began manufacturing army boots after the state request.

Yunichel’s most active European partner is the Belarusian company Belintertrans with its office in Germany, which supplied 900,000 dollars worth of rubber, creams, and other materials from various European producers in 2023.

Belintertrans Germany’s website states it is a company of the Belarusian state railway with an office in Germany, offering logistics services. Belintertrans Germany shipped goods to Russia on behalf of a company with the telling name Taiga International Trading Srl – an Italian company of Russian businessmen. Taiga’s Russian website calls them Yunichel’s “strategic partners.”

Trap Aggressor contacted the listed EU companies for comment but has not yet received a response. However, the German company Salamander publicly promised in May 2023 to cease trading with Russians.

“To underline Salamander’s clear and unequivocal positioning on the side of Ukraine, and notwithstanding the aforementioned arguments, it has been decided to immediately stop deliveries to the two customers concerned, and furthermore, to discontinue all other business in Russia and Belarus. Difficult neighbouring countries will also be subjected to a critical review in the short term. Salamander’s approach is stricter and tougher than the current EU sanctions list requires,” Salamander’s statement reads.

The European Union has not imposed a full embargo on trade with Russia, only restricting certain goods like military or dual-use items. The EU’s dual-use list covers categories like nuclear materials, electronics, telecoms and information security, sensors and lasers, aerospace, and propulsion.

Thus, leather, rubber, soles, and other clothing elements are not prohibited. From an international trade perspective, these goods are not seen as directly used by Russia in its war against Ukraine and can be freely sold from the EU to Russia.

Additionally, the Russian shoe manufacturers have not been sanctioned by the EU despite some being on Ukraine’s sanctions list. For example, Donobuv and Faraday were sanctioned by Ukraine in May 2023. EU sanctions could have complicated trading but not completely stopped it, as new Russian companies would likely emerge to import necessary goods and sell them to the manufacturers.

This case demonstrates that any European goods ending up in Russia can become tools for Russians in their war against Ukraine, Trapp Aggressor concluded. Targeted sanctions on individuals cannot fully stop Western support for the Russian military. According to Trapp Aggressor, an option to address this issue is to ban all EU trade with Russia instead of continuing to sanction only specific supply chains.

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