YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—The United States has added an Armenian trading company to its long list of entities accused of helping Russia evade U.S. sanctions imposed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The U.S. Department of Commerce blacklisted the company, Medisar, along with 69 Russian entities on May 19. It accused them of supporting Russia’s military and defense industry.
Founded in 2001, Medisar is based in Yerevan. It owns a large warehouse located there.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, a company executive, who did not want to be identified, acknowledged that Medisar has imported chemicals and laboratory equipment from the United States and the European Union and re-exported them to Russia. He insisted that company has not violated any Armenian laws and that the Armenian authorities have been aware of its operations.
Company representatives said they do not know yet the likely impact of the U.S. sanctions on Medisar’s continued activities. It was not clear whether they will stop doing business with Russia.
Medisar, which paid over $1 million in taxes last year, is the second Armenian-registered entity blacklisted by the United States. The other firm, TAKO, was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in April.
TAKO was registered in May last year about three months after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. According to the Armenian state registry, it is fully owned by a Russian national and specializes in wholesale trade in electronic and telecommunications equipment and parts.
U.S. officials apparently pressed the Armenian government to comply with the sanctions during a series of meetings held earlier this year.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan admitted on Monday that the issue is on the agenda of his government’s dealings with the U.S. and the EU. He said that despite its “strategic” relations with Russia and membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union, Armenia “cannot afford to be placed under Western sanctions.”
“Therefore, in our relations with Russia we will act on a scale that allows us to avoid Western sanctions,” he said, adding that Yerevan is “in constant communication with our Western partners.”
In a joint “compliance note” issued in March, the U.S. departments of Justice, Treasury and Commerce said that third-party intermediaries have commonly used China, Armenia, Turkey and Uzbekistan as “transshipment points” to Russia as well as Belarus.
Russian-Armenian trade skyrocketed last year, with Armenian exports to Russia nearly tripling to $2.4 billion. Goods manufactured in third countries and re-exported from Armenia to Russia are believed to have accounted for most of that gain.