United States, British and European Union representatives are visiting the United Arab Emirates amid concerns regarding shipments of goods, including computer chips, to Russia that could help Moscow in its war on Ukraine.
The senior Western officials arrived in the Gulf nation this week to discuss sanctions on Russia, as concerns mounted that Moscow was bypassing them through various means, a US embassy spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday.
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The report came on the heels of another by the Wall Street Journal on Monday – citing US and European officials – that discussed plans to jointly press the UAE to halt shipments of goods to Russia.
This was part of a collective global push to keep computer chips, electronic components and other so-called dual-use products out of Russian hands, the WSJ report said.
The UAE, a member of the OPEC+ oil alliance that includes Russia, has maintained good ties with Moscow despite Western pressure to isolate Russia over the invasion of Ukraine that began in February 2022. It has not matched the global sanctions imposed on Moscow.
The WSJ first reported the visit, saying that it comes as part of “a collective global push to keep computer chips, electronic components and other so-called dual-use products, which have both civilian and military applications, out of Russian hands”.
Last week, US artificial intelligence chip company Nvidia said in a regulatory filing that the US government had imposed curbs affecting its A100 and H100 chips designed to speed up machine-learning tasks for customers in the Middle East. The new restriction comes amid US concerns over technology transfer to sanctioned countries.
“During the second quarter of fiscal year 2024, the USG [US government] informed us of an additional licensing requirement for a subset of A100 and H100 products destined to certain customers and other regions, including some countries in the Middle East,” Nvidia said in the August 28 filing.
Rival chipmaker AMD also received an informed letter with similar restrictions, Reuters reported.
The Department of Commerce, which administers licensing requirements on exports, said on Thursday through a spokesperson that the US “has not blocked chip sales to the Middle East” and declined to comment on whether it had imposed new requirements on specific US companies.
A UAE official, in response to a Reuters request for comment, said the country “strictly abides by UN sanctions and has clear and robust processes in place to deal with sanctioned entities”.
In August, the Financial Times reported that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are allegedly buying thousands of Nvidia chips to build artificial intelligence software, citing “people familiar with the moves”.
The official added that the UAE “is continuously monitoring the export of dual-use products, ” which have both civilian and military applications, under its export control legal framework.
The UAE official also said that the country remained in close dialogue with international partners, including the US and EU, about the conflict in Ukraine and its implications for the global economy.
“UAE banks, under the supervision of the Central Bank and other relevant authorities, monitor compliance with sanctions imposed on Russia to prevent violations of international law,” the UAE official said.