Russia Switches Flag To Escape Sanctions

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According to BIRN, a Russian-flagged oil tanker that has been trapped off the Greek island of Evia since April 8 has changed flags, most likely to escape EU and US sanctions on Moscow, says an article published in Balkaninsight.

Avoid sanctioned

The Lana “is currently flying an Iranian flag while docked in Greek seas,” Claire Jungman, Chief of Staff of the US advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran, told BIRN.

Bloomberg claimed that many Russian ships have recently changed flags to hide their ties to Moscow and escape sanctions.

“Changing the Russian flag for an Iranian flag may be a Russian manoeuver to facilitate Russian exports,” Miltiadis Sarigiannidis, Associate Law Professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in northern Greece, told BIRN.

Mechanical problems

Greece has not seized the ship, which is stranded off the coast of Evia due to mechanical issues. 

The Lana has no fuel, according to a source familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to BIRN on Tuesday. 

The cargo will have to be transferred to another ship. Because the consignment is Iranian crude oil, this will be difficult.

 It was detained as a result of EU sanctions against Russia, but it was later released since its new owner, TransMorFlot LLC, a Russian maritime shipping firm, was not on the EU sanctions list.

Sanctions imposed by the US

On May 8, the US State Department announced fresh restrictions against eight Russian maritime entities, including TransMorFlot LLC, Lana’s owner.

 As a result of this action, the 16 vessels in which TransMorFlot LLC has a stake have been blocked, according to the State Department.

“The sanctions imposed by the US on the Russian shipping company do not apply in Greece,” a lawyer dealing with maritime law told BIRN.

 “However, sanctions are indirectly imposed,” he added.

Determine the ship’s fate

 According to media reports, no European shipping business will transport Iranian crude oil, no European refinery will process it, and no foreign bank will handle the payment.

According to BIRN, a court judgement in the United States is pending that will assist determine the ship’s fate.

An Investigation

According to Greek news agency Kathimerini, the US has petitioned Greek court authorities to order the cargo’s detention and examination. 

As a result, the case has been referred to the Greek prosecutor.

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Source: Balkaninsight

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