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Politics

Greek Navy Extends NAVTEX to Block Russian Oil Transfers Between Ships

ATHENS – Trying to block ship-to-ship transfers of Russian oil in international waters, the Greek Navy extended a NAVTEX navigational advisory warning vessels away from an area off the coast of the southeastern Peloponnese.

Greece, in a rare move over the past weeks, issued two advisories for naval maneuvers in the Laconian Gulf area, urging merchant and other vessels to avoid the area. One of them was issued on May 1.

“It was initially expiring on May 9 but was extended,” a Defense Ministry official who didn’t want to be named told Reuters, as Greece has stepped up its game of trying to deter the oil transfers.

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/greece-extends-naval-advisory-deter-russian-oil-ship-to-ship-transfers-2024-05-08/

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, international sanctions have made trading Russian crude and oil products increasingly difficult, prompting traders to seek loopholes to export them, including offshore ship-to-ship (STS) transfers.

In recent months, waters around the southern coast and the Laconian Gulf have been meeting oil transfer points especially for tankers carrying Russian oil onto other vessels, the news agency said.

Vessels are positioned beyond the limit of six nautical miles from the shore to avoid cargo and vessel checks by Greek authorities who have found themselves frustrated trying to stymie the maneuvers.

“You cannot perform an inspection on a ship with a foreign flag in international waters. Unless a vessel carries a Greek flag your hands are tied,” said a second source with knowledge of the matter, adding: “The NAVTEX advisory is an indirect way to prevent such activities.”

A third government official said that Athens plans to extend maritime advisories for military exercises in that area which could eventually push away STS transfers close to Greek waters.

In April, Reuters reported that four tankers were stuck near the Laconian Gulf after the United States imposed Iran-related sanctions, Russia also being penalized for the ongoing invasion, although its energy supplies crucial to the European Union had been exempted.

Russia has been trying to deal with the loss of insurance and other shipping services as Western countries turn up the pressure with financial sanctions that haven’t led to a military withdrawal or scaling down.

The European Commission is expected to propose sanctions on oil tankers in the so-called “shadow fleet” that transports Russian oil outside the Group of Seven countries (G7) oil price cap limit, European Union sources told Reuters earlier.

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