Greece Seen Blocking EU Sanctions on Russia to Protect Oligarchs

ATHENS – European Union proposals for more sanctions on Russia for the ongoing invasion of Ukraine and banning ships hiding transfers of Russian oil are reportedly being stymied by Greece.

A draft showed that the EU wants to prohibit ships from a member state from entering ports of another if they’re found to have engaged in deceptive ship-to-ship transfers of Russia origin oil or deliberately switching off Automatic Identification Signals (AIS) said Lloyd’s List.


The report said Greece is holding out unless Greek shipping oligarchs and their companies are taken off a list listed by Ukraine as “international sponsors of war” even if the ships are complying with sanctions, POLITICO said.

The text proposes a notification system between EU member states flagging ships to be banned from ports, said Lloyd’s, although details haven’t been worked out and other sanctions are being watered down.

Another loophole would be letting each country decide whether to abide by a ban on the ships and will have a grace period of 30 days, effectively preventing any enforcement of an alleged ban.

But even if diluted, the site said that a ban would be the first step toward states codifying and enforcing the restriction of ships engaging in illicit practices on a harmonized EU-wide basis.

EU countries would be required to  notify other governments of deceptive shipping practices identified and any vessels included in the notification procedures would effectively be banned from entering other EU ports.

But it’s also unclear what would define a deceptive shipping practice, the report said, further muddling any potential effectiveness,  especially as Russian energy was exempted from sanctions that were imposed.

Both Hungary and Greece have linked sign-off to having companies listed by Ukraine as war sponsors struck off the list, said POLITICO, those including many major Greek companies whose owners are essentially untouchable.

Greece-owned tankers comprised some 47 percent of all tankers calling at Baltic and Black Sea Russian ports in May, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence vessel-tracking data.



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