The Government has handed down dozens of waivers from European Union sanctions against Russia since the start of the Ukraine war, allowing payments for legal fees, animal feed imports and non-military exports.
After the European leaders settled on a ninth round of sanctions against Russian president Vladimir Putin and his allies earlier this month, figures obtained by The Irish Times show that 59 organisations have received derogations from Government bodies since Russian tanks stormed into Ukraine in February.
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, which oversees trade sanctions, said the sanctions contained “numerous exceptions” to ensure they were “effective, implementable and hurt Russia more than they hurt the EU”.
But the identity of almost all beneficiaries remains confidential. As a result, it not possible to gauge where the derogations were applied or to whom.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has granted 16 such exemptions, saying in response to questions that they were authorised for “the payment of fees for professional services associated with legal proceedings”.
Although Irish financial institutions have frozen €1.9 billion of Russian funds since the invasion, the Central Bank has separately approved 37 waivers from the penalties, for unspecified purposes.
Responding to questions, the Department of Enterprise said it had allowed 11 derogations. They include one for the trust behind the pension fund of Russian-owned Aughinish Alumina in Co Limerick, which was revealed only in records released under the Freedom of Information Act.
That department approved four waivers to allow Russian-flagged vessels access ports for animal feed imports, following recommendations from the Department of Agriculture. Five derogations were issued for exports to Russia of items for the exclusive use of entities with their legal base in EU member states or partner countries.
Another derogation related to the export to Russia’s ally Belarus of items for non-military use and for a non-military end user. Such exports were “intended for civilian telecommunications networks, including the provision of internet services”.
The Department of Enterprise said Ireland remained “fully committed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine” within its recognised borders, adding that the Government had maintained a “maximalist position” on sanctions since the war started.
“The EU must make clear to Russia that its actions will have consequences,” the department said. “Exemptions and derogations are included for very good reasons, including to ensure security of supply of food and other essential products on the European market.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs declined to disclose the beneficiaries of the derogations, saying it was “not in a position to provide any further details” on the approvals. “No applications for a derogation have been refused to date, and no derogations have been unilaterally revoked by the department.”
Similarly, the Central Bank declined to disclose which organisations had been granted waivers. “The Central Bank has not refused or cancelled any derogations to date; however, given its confidential nature, we are not in a position to provide any further information.”