Emirati companies have been under US and British sanctions for their dealings with Russia, despite the international sanctions imposed on Moscow because of its war on Ukraine that has been going on for more than a year.
Sanctions were imposed on UAE, Hong Kong and Turkey companies for selling drones and electronics, including US-made semiconductors, to the Russian defence sector.
The United States and Britain announced the imposition of sanctions on close associates of wealthy Russians, including members of the circle of Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov, for helping these oligarchs hide their money.
Washington and London added dozens of people and companies to the sanctions lists in an attempt to obstruct the activities of influential figures accused of supporting the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his war on Ukraine.
A few days ago, the American CEPA Center called for imposing severe sanctions on the UAE to deter its ruling regime in light of its policies, which it described as being against Western interests and identifying with Iran and Russia.
In an analytical article by the British academic Matthew Hedges, the centre confirmed that the UAE supports Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine, through which vast amounts of Russian foreign trade pass. However, it always claims to be an ally of the West.
It is noteworthy that Hedges was arrested in the UAE in 2018 and charged with intelligence and espionage for the United Kingdom before he was tortured and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Hedges said the UAE is not a friend of Western countries. Still, the Gulf state’s outrageous behaviour extends far beyond and into other areas more critical to the United States and its democratic allies, primarily as it affects Russia’s war against Ukraine.
He pointed out that the UAE supports Iran. However, it traditionally considers it a threat, but it is also a significant trading partner after it became an essential outlet for Iranian oil exports to China.
He noted that vast amounts of Russian foreign trade pass through the UAE, although it always claims to be an ally of the West.
Fleets of oil tankers are also managed through a Russian subsidiary in the Emirates, and other Russian-linked tankers registered in the Gulf country, while Indian refineries buy Russian oil in Emirati dirhams, often through Russian-owned traders in the Emirates.
Hedges evidenced what he said by the procession of senior US officials, from the Vice President and after him, who arrived in Abu Dhabi to clarify the continuing concerns about evading US sanctions, especially on Russia and Iran.
In November, the United States sanctioned an Emirati airline for “facilitating the transfer” of Iranian drones to Russia.
Another airline was sanctioned in January by the United States for transporting personnel and equipment for the (semi-official) Wagner mercenary group between its bloody operations in Africa.
The United States describes the group as a “transnational criminal organization”.
It may seem unusual that Emirati companies are alleged to have such close ties to two visible elements of Russia’s bloody war in Ukraine.
“More important is the influx of Russian businessmen, companies, and assets that are used to operate outside Western sanctions. The Russian elite’s yachts are on the UAE’s beaches, and their private planes are on the runways.”
According to Hedges, the position of the Emirates is very clear, it will do things that annoy the West and undermine the main Western policies of its sense of independence, and it is confident in its ability to walk the line between theoretical friendship with the West and moderate indifference to the things that make them uncomfortable.
He explains this by saying: “There are important trade and military relations with the United States, Germans and others fly to beg for LNG supply deals, and the United Kingdom seeks trade and investment in the UAE, while the French sell $18 billion in advanced combat aircraft to the Gulf state.”