Report show Belarusian timber circumventing EU sanctions

Image: BIC

A new report by the Belarusian Investigative Center (BIC), in collaboration with Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza and Radio Liberty Ukraine’s project Skhemy. has uncovered Belarusian timber allegedly circumventing the EU sanctions, and entering the region as Central Asia products.

BIC’s report mentioned that Belarusian exports in 2023 reached an all-high figure of $40bn. Among which, Belarus exported 17,000 more cubic metres of timber in 2023 compared to 2022, even though Belarus was sanctioned back in 2022 by Western countries for the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The reason for this record-breaking figure was not only because China and Azerbaijan have increased their exports from Belarus, but also because “timber of Belarusian origin worth tens of millions of euros is imported into the EU disguised as products from Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan”, according to BIC.

Suspicions in the EU were triggered when Kazakhstan increased their exports to €126 million in 2022 and 2023, even though they had not been a major trader.

The investigation also revealed that imports through Poland was raised to around €68m in 2023 from €14m in 2022.

BIC’s investigation of forged documents, including consignment notes and corporate seals, yielded these results. Further investigations revealed the involvement of intermediaries and shell companies, including those linked to Belarusian individuals, in orchestrating these shipments.

Source: Belarusian Investigative Center, Lesprom, Timber Trade Journal