Toyota Bypassing Sanctions to Sell Cars in Crimea
20 July, 2017

Japanese multinational automotive manufacturer Toyota has been selling its cars in Ukraine’s annexed Crimean Peninsula, despite sanctions restricting trade with the Russian-occupied region.

The illegal sales appear on the Russian government’s procurement website and in the database of Russian Federal Tax Service.

In 2015, the so-called “Crimean Federal University” — known as Taurida National University before the annexation of Crimea — purchased a Toyota Camry for usage by its leadership. 

The university concluded the contract with a group of companies known as “Business Car.” The head of the local “Toyota Center Rublevsky” also signed the contract as the distributor. 

According to Russian Federal Tax Service, a Japan-based company called “Toyota Tsusho Corporation” — part of the Toyota group of companies — is the co-founder of “Business Car.” This means that Toyota is still selling its products to Crimea, despite the sanctions.

Earlier, Reuters reported that Russia had delivered electricity turbines produced by Germany's Siemens corporation to Crimea. The company subsequently denied these accusations.

"Siemens has not delivered turbines to Crimea and complies with all export control restrictions," Wolfram Trost, a Siemens spokesman, told Reuters.

After this controversy, Siemens said it had established a task force to investigate reports that its turbines had been delivered to Crimea to be used in Russian-built power plants.

In February 2014, after the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, clashes erupted between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian protesters in Crimea. On February 27, Russian special forces in unmarked green uniforms began seizing control over key government buildings in the peninsula. While the Crimean parliament building was occupied, the parliamentarians voted — some at gunpoint — to terminate the Crimean government and schedule a referendum on Crimean independence. The illegal referendum was held on March 16 to widespread international condemnation. Around 95 percent of participating voters reportedly casted their ballots for independence, according to the peninsula’s separatist officials. Three days later, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Crimean separatist leaders signed a draft treaty admitting Crimea into the Russian Federation. The treaty was subsequently ratified by the Russian legislature.

In 2014, the European Union imposed economic sanctions targeting Crimea. Sanctions ban the sale, supply, transfer, or export of goods and technology in several sectors, including services directly related to tourism and infrastructure in the annexed peninsula. Canada and the U.S. responded to the annexation by prohibiting trade with Crimea as well.

 /by Serhiy Mokrushyn

 /translated and adapted by Liuda Kornievych