- The UK government is considering restricting Russian ships from using British ports after it emerged that a Russian-owned oil tanker is due to dock in Orkney this week.
- The NS Champion, operated by Sovcomflot, a large shipping company majority-owned by the Russian state, is due to berth at Flotta oil terminal in Orkney on Tuesday to collect crude oil.
A recent news article published in the Guardian states that UK considers banning Russian ships from British ports.
Permission for vessel
To the dismay of politicians and islanders – including Ukrainian residents who attended an anti-war demonstration on Saturday in the archipelago’s largest town, Kirkwall – Orkney Islands council said the UK government had advised that at present the vessel cannot be refused permission to dock.
“As a council we are in an extremely difficult position,” a spokesperson said. “We recognise the strength of feeling around this – feelings that we share – but we are bound by our legal obligations to accept the vessel, until such a time as the UK government tells us otherwise.”
A UK government spokesperson indicated there were a number of Russian vessels scheduled to dock at British ports, despite the intensifying trade embargos against Russian businesses and state entities.
Russian cargo ship impounded
Last week, the French impounded a Russian cargo ship carrying cars suspected of being linked to Russians targeted by sanctions implemented by the US Treasury Department.
“We are aware of concerns about Russian-connected ships potentially docking in the UK and we are working rapidly to explore a range of measures to restrict access for them,” the spokesperson said.
“We are already discussing this issue with the Scottish government and the sanctions being considered are part of a wider package being worked up across the UK government.”
Angus Robertson, the Scottish government’s external affairs secretary, told BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show: “The UK authorities have got a big decision to take, on whether we are going to allow Russian-owned or charted vessels to dock in UK ports.
“[This] is a very fast-moving situation and we’re going to have to act decisively in my view.”
At Saturday’s protest against the invasion, Nataliia Kuzmina, a Ukrainian living in Orkney, told the BBC she was angered that the vessel may arrive. She said her parents remained in Ukraine and her father had volunteered to fight to defend their town but did not have any weapons.
“Every little thing matters now. Hundreds of people around Europe will do some small act like this, stopping buying Russian products, stopping tankers being filled up with oil,” she said. “It matters and I feel it’s my duty to turn away this tanker from Scapa Flow.”
Jamie Halcro Johnston, a Scottish Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands, said he discussed the issue with Alister Jack, the Scottish secretary, on Saturday morning; Jack said it had been raised with the prime minister’s office.
“The United Kingdom has already closed our airspace to Russian airlines, and our waters should be closed to Russian state-owned shipping too,” Halcro Johnston said.
“It is important that, given the actions already taken against Putin’s regime and its interests, we ensure there are no loopholes left available to be exploited by Russian state interests.”
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Source: The Guardian