Despite sanctions, European supermarkets operate in Crimea

According to Reuters, the Metro and Auchan European supermarket chains are operating in the annexed Crimea despite EU sanctions.

Products exported to these shops from Russia come through the port of Kerch, even though the European sanctions prohibit this, sources at the agency says.

According to these sanctions, EU companies cannot do business in the Crimea. Reuters reports that the representatives of Metro and Auchan have stated that they are not violating the sanctions as their stores are operating under the jurisdiction of their Russian representatives, who do not fall under the EU's restrictive measures.

Lawyers have pointed out that the transport of goods to the Crimea may fall into a “gray zone” of the sanctions regime as the relationship between companies, their regional representatives and their suppliers are often difficult to determine.

In response to Reuters, Metro and Auchan have not denied that their goods are shipped to the Crimea.

A Metro representative said to Reuters that the supermarket is working as an independent Russian company in the Crimea and therefore does not fall under EU sanctions. An Auchan representative added that their company operates within the law.

A representative of the EU, on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the work of these chains in the Crimea goes against the “spirit of the sanctions”.

“However, due to lack of the trade embargo, there is always a fine line between compliance and non-compliance,” the official said.

  Ukraine, Russia, Crimea, Sanctions