Practically speaking, sanctions policing happens at the sprawling terminals of Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, and at smaller ports around the continent. It is a vastly complex, labor-intensive task that, officials admit, is far from perfect. The oil embargo will present still more difficulties: Oil can be reshipped, blended, refined or relabeled to conceal its Russian origin.
For the people working at Rotterdam, every E.U. sanctions package has meant that more and more of the burden of fulfilling a united European stand against Russia falls on them. According to the port’s own data, 58 million tons of goods were imported from Russia in 2020 and four million exported, with a collective value of approximately €34 billion.
Quotable: “If we had 100 percent sanctions and no trade flow was allowed, that would be the easiest,” the port’s chief executive, Allard Castelein, said.
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