United States officials are undertaking a diplomatic mission to encourage the world to enforce sanctions and trade controls against Russia more stringently, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
The renewed effort has targeted so-called "sanctions leakage," which occurs when weak trade law enforcement leads to continued trade flow. It comes as exports to Russia have risen in the past months as the initial blowback from the Ukraine invasion dwindles.
"We want to avoid circumvention, both within Europe and then with third countries," European Commission financial-services commissioner Mairead McGuinness told the paper. "The longer we have any leakage, ... the more difficult it is to see things" conclude.
By sending senior officials abroad, like Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last week, the U.S. is attempting to lobby foreign counties to increase intelligence and crack down on networks suspected of ferrying supplies into Russia.
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo visited Northwestern Europe earlier this month for the same reasons as Yellen. Meanwhile, financial crimes specialist Elizabeth Rosenberg recently visited Japan.
"There are public reports that Russian money laundering is active in the Arab world," Rosenberg said at a Union of Arab Banks conference in October. "This is something we all have a vested interest in preventing, investigating, and eliminating."
However, there is substantial pushback from some nations comfortable with playing the official sanction position side while also permitting smugglers for economic reasons, according to Russia sanctions investigator George Voloshin.
Of those countries, China and Turkey have specifically received attention.
Exports to China, for example, have only risen since the imposition of sanctions, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian referring to the pair's relations as "rock solid" earlier this month.
Turkish Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati assured The Journal that his country was only "continuing our trade with Russia in areas that are not subject to any sanction."
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