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Inte Europa: #Ukraina inför "beordrade" sanktioner mot #Ryssland

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According to the recent statement of MEP Rebecca Harms, in the wake of aggression in the Sea of Azov d European Union is preparing new sanctions against Russia. In the meantime a scandal is likely to break out in Ukraine because of “Ukrainian style” sanctions. Despite all the restrictions imposed by Kyiv against the aggressor-country, Russian enterprises fortsätta att profit on the territory of Ukraine. The situation in the transport sphere, particularly in d järnväg sektor is the most complicated. It turns out that the sanctions were “ordered” by Russian business

According to a source from the Ukrainian monopoly PJSC Ukrzaliznytsia, sanctions against the Russian railway companies imposed by Ukraine were ordered and prepared with active help of influential Russian businessmen. It has been suggested that sanctions were imposed only against certain structures that had lost clients in Ukraine and Russia. After the imposition of these sanctions most of the cargo owners simply started using the services of other Russian companies. But the thing is that those lobbyists in favour of sanctions from the Russian Federation are now in debt to Kyiv for their assistance in the fight against their competitors.

"These sanctions were offered by one of the biggest Russian railway operators – Federal Freight Company (FFC). The head of the company Aleksei Taicher helped to make the first lists. Later using his connections in Ukrainian governing establishment he lobbied the designation of his person for the position of freight and logistics director in Ukrzaliznytsia. Maksim Kushnirchuk became the head of this department  before a list for the second stage of imposing sanctions in 2017 was made. After this list was formed and having performed the task Kushnirchuk quitted voluntarily", - claimed an anonymous source from Ukrzaliznytsia.

The source also added that the Russian wagons keep moving across Ukraine bringing profit to their owners in the Russian Federation. According to Viacheslav Konovalov, expert of Europatrol public organisation, nowadays there is a huge deficit of freight wagons in Ukraine. Mostly this deficit is artificial. That is why the Russian wagons keep operating in Ukraine.

“For example in Izmail you can see a lot of these so called Russian wagons on the freight network - and they nummer show that they are registered as Ukrainian. The wagons are registered as Ukrainian because there is a tragic deficit of wagons in Ukraine”- Konovalov says.

The European Union may accuse Kyiv authorities of connivance taking into account the fact that the wagons of the aggressor-country are still operating in Ukraine. However, according to the source from Ukrzaliznytsia, in some way selective sanctions are useful. Thanks to this approach, Kyiv managed to bribe Russian businessmen who visit high-level Moscow offices, although it is not clear yet how such connections will be utilised.

Annons

The Federal Freight Company is obviously in debt to the Ukrainian governance, since not allowing its Russian competitors to the Ukrainian market brings huge increase in profits for this company.

According to the former deputy minister of infrastructure in Ukraine, Vladimir Shulmeister, sanctions in Ukraine are tools for corporate wars. The closer you are to the authorities, the more chances you have to get rid of your competitors on the market.

"Now when you are looking at the sanctioned companies, you keep wondering - how they got in that list? And they got there because these companies are suppliers of something competitive with other Russian companies. And in order to get rid of a competitor, they simply include him in a sanctions list", -  Schulmeister says.

Who is sanctioned?

According to a source at PJSC Ukrzaliznytsia, the main competitor of the Federal Freight Company was the Russian First Freight Company (Freight One): it is the largest company of this sphere in the Russian Federation with a fleet of 170,000 wagons. Another competitor was its subsidiary structure JSC Freight One in Ukraine. Now in Ukraine this company is completely banned from transit traffic, import and export. After Freight One left Ukraine, cargo owners started using the services of structures affiliated to the Federal Freight Company; in particular the services of LLC Zhefko Ukraine, which positions itself as a French enterprise. However, in reality, according to the information from the official website of the Federal Freight Company, Zhefko Ukraine is affiliated with JSC Federal Freight Company.

In addition, JSC Sberbank Leasing, SG-Trans, OilTransService, First Freight Company, Promtransinvest, First Freight Company in Ukraine, Rail 1520 Service, Agrocomplex, Aston Food and Foods Ingredients were sanctioned too. It is interesting that during the second stage of sanctions Aleksey Taicher’s FFC was included in the list of sanctions. Why only now, and not since 2015?

The source at Ukrzaliznytsa explained that such a step was indeed important. After the first stage of sanctions, it was difficult to suspect FFC of making some schemes with Ukrainian authorities against Russian companies because sanctions in 2015 did not affect a number of large Russian enterprises. The second stage sanctioned many more railway transportation companies on the Ukrainian market. So it was extremely risky not to be included in the list of sanctions. In addition, being in the list did not do any damage to the company. So this is the reason.

"Smakämnen Federal Freight Company leased wagons from the company UVZ-Logistic, a transport subsidiary of the Uralvagonzavod corporation. Last year, according to the order of Russian President Putin, UVZ-Logistic and Uralvagonzavod were handed over to the "Rostec" state corporation. The latter proceeded  with the case trying to find out why the unfavorable wagon rental deal was made and eventually required from Federal Freight Company to return the rolling stock. Thus, the Federal Freight Company knew in advance that they would have to return the wagons. Consequently, being sanctioned meant nothing for the company, because it had very few wagons av sig själv. But instead the FFC has a number of affiliated companies in Ukraine, which, thanks to the sanctions from 2015 to 2018, obtained a huge client base which previously used the service of Freight One and other Russian competitors of Federal Freight Company, ” - the source explained.

According to the source, Ukrainian authorities could not openly make scandalous deals with the Federal Freight Company. After all, the company had some transportation interests in occupied Crimea since 2014. Then it delivered construction materials to the construction of the Kerch bridge, and in the period from 2015 to 2016 it transported almost 70 thousand tons of cargo. And the worst thing is that it provided ammunition to the separatists in DPR and LPR in the east of Ukraine. If Western partners found out about all this, Ukraine would not get away with it. But helping the Federal Freight Company obviously also has some advantages, which may outweigh the risk of losing their reputation.

After all, who is Aleksei Taicher? According to the Kommersant publisher, he had enjoyed good business connections with the former vice president of OJSC Russian Railways Salman Babayev.

They had previously worked together in the First Freight Company, owned by oligarch Vladimir Lisin.

In addition, Aleksey Taicher’s partner in another company, SG-Trans, is Mr. Babayev’s son.

In fact, it transpires, Mr. Taicher is a very high ranking businessman indeed. Taking into account the fact that the Federal Freight Company is a 100% subsidiary of Russian Railways, then for Ukraine to get the "back door" to the offices of the top management of the Russian giant is not a bad way to extract beneficial information from the highest circles. It is known that the leadership of the Russian Railways comprises of political figures, and is being managed from the Kremlin.

Perhaps Western partners should not hurry to scold Ukraine for double standards in sanctions against Russian business. If it is finally confirmed that, due to the greed of Russian capital and thanks to the foresight of the Ukrainian governance, the "Trojan horse" was inserted into the political environment of the Russian Federation, the organisers of this operation will be rewarded. But we cannot say the same about Mr. Taicher.

This gentleman is unlikely to be patted on the back for his game against the homeland. Should the relevant authorities wake up to the fact that this scheme is not only about personal enrichment but also about politics, then the personal prospects of the top manager will be very vague!

 

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