US restricts fentanyl exports to Russia
The US has imposed further sanctions on Russia and its ally Belarus over the conflict in Ukraine, restricting exports of various chemicals, including the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl. The move was announced by the US Commerce Department on Friday.
“In response to the Russian Federation’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine, the Department of Commerce is expanding the existing sanctions against Russia and Belarus by imposing new export controls,” the department’s Bureau of Industry and Security said in a statement.
The restrictions target various “lower-level” chemicals that Washington deems to be “potentially useful” for Russia’s “production capabilities” of chemical weapons. The chemicals therefore “may be useful” for Moscow to support its “military aggression,” the department claimed.
Notably, the list includes fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, as well as its derivatives. The chemical is primarily known as an illicit drug, and the US itself is suffering from rampant use. In 2021 alone, the use of fentanyl caused more than 71,000 overdose deaths across the US, according to official statistics.
Russia has destroyed its stockpile of chemical weaponry, which was inherited from the Soviet Union, and has long maintained that it neither possesses nor seeks to procure them.