US, EU Ban Luxury Goods Exports to Russia

While many brands in the U.S. and Europe have decided to halt business in Russia in the past week, leaders are now officially banning the export of luxury goods to the country, and stripping it of favored trade status as it continues its assault on Ukraine.

Today, President Biden and G7 Leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom as well as the European Union announced new economic actions to “hold Putin accountable for his continued assault on Ukraine and further isolate Russia from the global financial system.”

Biden will sign an executive order that will end the export of luxury items to any person located in the Russian Federation. “This will ensure that U.S. persons are not providing luxury items, such as high end-watches, luxury vehicles, high-end apparel, high-end alcohol, jewelry, and other goods frequently purchased by Russian elites,” said a statement from the White House. (The U.S. export value of the products covered by today’s luxury goods restrictions is nearly $550 million per year, the statement said.)

In a similar statement released by the European Union, EU President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU will take action to “make sure that the elites, proxies and oligarchs that support President Putin’s war are deprived of their access to luxury goods and assets.”

“The elites who sustain Putin’s war machine should no longer be able to reap the gains of this system, squandering the resources of the Russian people,” von der Leyen said in the statement.

Designers from Giorgio Armani to Demna Gvasalia have been speaking up against the war; protesters bearing Ukrainian flags flanked Milan Fashion Week showgoers, and last week, several international brands and luxury fashion groups, from LVMH and Kering to Prada, Hermès and Moncler, announced they were temporarily pausing their commercial activities and shuttering their stores in Russia as a sign of protest against the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The show of unity came after fake news started to circulate, asserting that Italy had made a request for carve-outs on sanctions, including for luxury goods. That was firmly denied by an official tweet from Palazzo Chigi, the seat of the country’s Council of Ministers and the official residence of the country’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

With contributions from Luisa Zargani

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