The “Small part” of UK companies in the shipping chain exposes “Huge holes in Western sanctions,” The Independent reports
British-crewed ships have participated in transporting Russian crude oil to Asia, The Independent revealed on Friday, claiming that the “small part” they play in the chain indicates “huge holes” in the Western sanctions on Moscow.
A joint investigation of The Independent and the website Global Witness found that at least twice in May, British-crewed vessels based in the Suffolk town of Southwold “To transfer Russian oil to large tanksers, sailors sped from close ports.”
One boat was sent by a British company called STS Marine Transfers to move 14,000 tonnes of Russian fuel oil from one foreign tanker to another, while another, a catamaran called Endeavor that belongs to a company known as Wood Marine, delivered supplies and took the tankers’ crews ashore. Oil transfers were made outside of UK territorial waters.
“After refuelling, the two tankers carried 165,000 tonnes of Russian fuel oil – worth more than £165m – onwards to the Persian Gulf and Singapore,” The Independent said.
According to the outlet, the transfers “are one link in an international chain”This has allowed Russia to shift its oil sales quickly to Asia as European buyers have cut back.
When approached by the journalists, one of the operators of the British ships said their boats just provide “Taxi service on the sea,” and therefore there is no obligation to check where the oil comes from. A second company stated that it had been following all international regulations and laws, but hadn’t renewed its agreement with Russia-based cargoes.
“The exact number of transfers of Russian oil that have taken place off Britain’s coast is not known. Although they’re not illegal and British companies are allowed to participate, these transactions are a sign of massive gaps in Western sanctions.” the investigators claim.
As an additional feature, they added: “global shipping is among the most opaque and least accountable industries in the world,” and many things are happening “beyond the reach of individual nation states,” the industry significantly undermines Western countries’ ability to put pressure on Russia.
The G7 has said it is aware of the problem and plans to introduce a price cap which would allow Western nations to curb Moscow’s oil revenue. China and India have been enticed by the G7 to join, as they are large buyers of Russian crude oil.
Western countries placed severe sanctions on Moscow in response to Russia’s military operations in Ukraine. They also placed partial and full bans on Moscow’s oil, gas, or coal. Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously charged EU leaders with economic suicide for trying to abandon Russian energy.
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