Shipping companies in the three largest maritime nations of the European Union, Greece, Cyprus and Malta, have doubled the amount of Russian oil they carry since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Shipping companies and ships linked to the three countries carried an average of 58 million barrels of Russian oil in the month of May, the British newspaper reported, citing an analysis by Global Witness, a non-governmental organization. That’s almost double the 31 million barrels they transported together in February. The three countries have the largest shipping fleet in the EU, according to Reuters.
The increase in the transport of Russian crude oil is the result of a tripling of oil tanker freight rates since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24. At the same time, the transport of the oil undermines the EU sanctions against Russia.
“Ships linked to Greece, Cyprus and Malta are making a mockery of the EU’s efforts to sanction Putin’s War Machine by funneling money to Russia as its forces continue to attack Ukraine,” Louis Goddard, an adviser at Global Witness, told The Independent.
The NGO’s report follows findings from The Sunday Times that Greek shipping companies are participating in “ship-to-ship”transfers of Russian oil to hide the transport of the fuel. Data examined by The Sunday Times pointed to an increase in such practices, with a Russian ship unloading oil on another neutral party ship.
There is no suggestion that the companies and ships involved in transporting Russian oil are violating sanctions, the Independent and Sunday Times reported.
Last Monday, the EU reached an agreement on a Russian oil ban that should reduce Russian oil imports by about 90 percent by the end of the year. However, plans to ban EU vessels from carrying Russian oil to countries outside the region, such as China and India, were scrapped.
However, the EU and UK intend to discourage the practice by not allowing ships carrying Russian oil to take out insurance – an insurance critical to the shipping industry, the Financial Times reported last week.