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Tankers owned by the Russian state company Sovcomflot continue to deliver oil to European ports in defiance of Western sanctions. This was reported by the international platform OCCRP.
According to investigators, the Russian company was able to get around the restrictions by registering them as the property of its subsidiaries in Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates.
In this situation, it is almost impossible to trace the ownership of the vessel, especially when the company changes the names of the ships, and the tankers themselves turn off trackers in some countries, said international politics and finance specialist Ricardo Soares. He also stressed that flying the Liberian flag is the easiest way to hide the ship’s origins.
OCCRP has identified more than 18 Sovcomflot tankers that continue to operate, each carrying approximately $240 million worth of oil on average. The organization tracked at least five of them as the ships either returned, were on their way or were in ports in Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands after EU sanctions against the company went into effect.
Who is the buyer of Russian oil delivered by Sovcomflot tankers is unclear. According to economist John Christensen, the actions of the shipping company are a sign of how much Russia is seeking to ease or evade Western sanctions.
European Union introduced sanctions against Sovcomflot in mid-March. A month later in the shipping company reportedthat, due to the restrictions imposed, it will not be able to pay off Eurobonds, and later Sovcomflot announced the sale of part of its fleet. By the summer, the Russian shipping company moved most of its business to Dubai, informed American newspaper WSJ. Before the start of the war, the company’s own and chartered fleet consisted of 134 vessels.
At the beginning of June, the EU accepted the sixth package of sanctions, which includes a ban on the import of oil from Russia, delivered by sea.
June 22 Bloomberg reportedthat Russian oil tankers have recently begun to frequently disappear from the radar of special tracking systems near the Azores, near Portugal. From June 12 to June 22, at least three ships disabled their tracking systems in the region.