According to information from the German government, the Czech Republic has confiscated at least one car with Russian license plates under the controversial rules imposed by Brussels. The European Union (EU) recently instructed its member states to investigate Russian-registered private vehicles on their soil, as these vehicles may potentially violate the bloc’s sanctions against trade with Russia. Many member states that share a border with Russia have since banned such cars altogether and are even considering confiscating those vehicles inside their borders.
The German federal government shared this information with a Member of Parliament (MP) who had inquired about how Germany and other EU member states were implementing the restrictions. The Russian newspaper Izvestia obtained a response given on September 21 to Eugen Schmidt, a member of the opposition Alternative for Germany party. However, no details about the reported seizure were provided.
Interestingly, the Czech government publicly stated that it did not intend to confiscate Russian cars after the release of the EU guidelines. Czech Minister for European Affairs, Martin Dvorak, announced that they would not confiscate goods and cars from Russian citizens in the internal market because they had already been cleared to be in the EU territory.
However, the Czech Republic has reportedly impounded at least one vehicle with Russian license plates, as confirmed by the German government’s disclosure to the MP. This discrepancy raises questions about the Czech government’s official position on the matter.
Hana Prudicova, the Customs chief of the Czech Republic, indicated that if Russian goods arrive by air, her country may be required to enforce sanctions on those goods. However, she made it clear that these vehicles should not enter the territory of the Czech Republic at all.
The EU’s stringent trade restrictions against Russia were introduced in response to the Ukraine crisis. Germany was among the first countries to embrace an interpretation that provided legal grounds for seizing Russian cars, with the initial cases reportedly occurring in May.
The initial EU guidelines called for a thorough examination of various goods carried by Russian travelers, including their clothing and personal care items. However, Brussels later acknowledged that personal belongings presented a minimal risk of sanctions evasion.
Moscow has criticized the threat of vehicle seizures as an example of the EU’s “racism” towards Russian citizens. Finland, another neighbor of Russia that has banned Russian cars, has acknowledged that these measures do “hurt normal people,” as stated by Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen. She emphasized that there was no choice but to implement these measures due to the Ukraine conflict, emphasizing that it “comes with a price.”
In conclusion, the Czech Republic’s reported confiscation of a car with Russian license plates under the EU’s sanctions has raised questions about the official position of the Czech government. The implementation of these restrictions on Russian-registered vehicles continues to create tensions between the EU and Russia, with both sides defending their respective stances.