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More sanctions over ties to Russia drones

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Four Cypriot companies found themselves sanctioned by the U.S. authorities after evidence linking them to the sale of equipment used for drones deployed by Russia in the war on Ukraine.

According to an announcement from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), these companies are directly or indirectly serving the interests of the Kremlin, specifically in assisting the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As recorded in the announcement, the following companies were found to be linked to a Belgian businessman, Hans De Geetere, sanctioned for helping Russia obtain electronic equipment found in drones launched by Russia against Ukraine.

“De Geetere has coordinated the procurement of electronics for Russian customers, including high priority semiconductor devices sought by Russia for its weapons programs and drone engines, among other items,” the U.S. Treasury said.

The companies are Eriner Limited, The Mother Ark Ltd, Lar Vorto Services Limited, and Ahetei Limited.

All four companies are associated with Belgian entrepreneur Hans De Geetere, who is also subject to sanctions.

According to U.S. authorities, De Geetere and his network attempted, in certain instances, to send electronic goods to Russia through Hong Kong, China and Turkey. The equipment appears to have been used for military purposes by Russia.

Hong Kong

Specifically, Eriner has repeatedly collaborated with the Hong Kong-based M and S Trading to coordinate orders for electronic components destined for Russia.

The mentioned equipment, according to U.S. findings, is directly linked to systems identified in Russian unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) used in the invasion of Ukraine.

Hans De Geetere heads the Cypriot companies Eriner Limited and The Mother Ark Ltd. Lar Vorto Services Limited appears in the corporate structure of De Geetere’s companies, such as Eriner, The Mother Ark, and Ahetei Limited.

All four companies have declared the same registered office in Larnaca.

As reported by Reuters on Wednesday, the US imposed another round of sweeping measures against Moscow over the war in Ukraine, targeting Russia’s access to technological means to enhance its military capacity.

“The United States and our allies remain focused on disrupting any attempts by Russia or its trusted agents to gain access to the critical inputs and technologies necessary to support Moscow’s defense industry and facilitate its brutal war in Ukraine,” Treasury’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in the statement.