The US on March 11 banned all imports of Russian seafood to punish Putin for invading Ukraine.
Russian seafood that gets sent to China for processing still makes its way to the US, AP reported.
The US has also struggled to cut off Russia’s energy revenue as other countries depend on its oil.
The US banned the import of Russian seafood after the invasion of Ukraine, but that hasn’t stopped it from flowing across the border.
Thanks to seafood processing in China and loose country of origin labeling laws in the US, Russian pollock, salmon, and wild-caught fish is still being bought, sold, and consumed by Americans, according to an Associated Press report.
President Joe Biden on March 11 announced a ban on imports of vodka, diamonds, and seafood from Russia as part of a series of measures intended to punish President Vladimir Putin for launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
But Russian seafood companies can get their products to the US anyway by going through China, where plenty of seafood from Russian waters is already processed.
A 2019 study from the International Trade Commission found almost one-third of wild-caught fish imported into the US from China actually originated in Russia. The study also found that 50% of pollock and 75% of salmon imported into the US from China were actually from Russia.
When the fish is processed and exported to the US it can be labeled as a “product of China” because a country of origin label isn’t required, according to AP, allowing it to evade the Russian import ban.
Gleb Frank, the son of a former Putin official and son-in-law of a sanctioned oligarch, owns two of the largest seafood exporters in Russia, Russian Fishery Co. and Russian Crab, AP reported. He was dubbed Russia’s “Crab King” in 2019 after winning major crab-fishing rights from the Russian government.
Frank demonstrates the close ties between the Russian seafood industry and the Kremlin, according to AP. He was also sanctioned by the US last month as part of a major campaign against Russian elites and their families. Following the sanctions, he sold part of his ownership in both companies and resigned as chairman.
The US has also struggled to cut Russia off from oil and gas profits despite instituting its own import ban on them. Some European countries have also banned Russian oil but others are reliant on it, like Italy and Germany, in addition to countries like China and India that continue to buy it.
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