Germans still ‘seizing’ cars, Russian Embassy warns citizens

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The Russian Embassy in Berlin has once again advised its nationals against bringing their cars into Germany, citing examples of German agents seizing vehicles with Russian license plates.

According to local media, the cars were taken as part of sanctions placed on Russia in 2014, which were reinforced after Moscow commenced its military intervention in Ukraine in February 2022. According to a July investigation by German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), more than ten cars with Russian license plates were seized in just a few weeks.

“We continue to observe that German customs authorities seize private vehicles registered as the property of Russian nationals and temporarily imported into Germany for personal use or transit purposes,” the statement said.

“Until the situation is clarified, Russian nationals are strongly advised against importing vehicles with Russian license plates into Germany,” the embassy wrote. 

The broadcaster relayed the story of Ivan Koval, a Russian IT manager who moved to Hamburg with his wife last May and was “shocked” to find his automobile taken by German customs authorities in accordance with a legislation that punishes Moscow’s “destabilization” operations in Ukraine. “I told them I wasn’t causing any trouble, that I’d just come here with my wife.” But, in the end, I had to give away my automobile,” the guy told DW.

NATO countries placed sanctions on Moscow for the first time in 2014, when Crimea decided to leave Ukraine and join Russia in the aftermath of that year’s Western-backed coup in Kiev. Moscow has pressed on trade restrictions and the confiscation of Russian assets and property.