Britain has been bypassing its own sanctions against Russia, according to a report, which says it managed to track dozens of shipments of Russian oil into the United Kingdom since March.
The British daily newspaper Sunday Times said in a report that the United Kingdom has purchased at least 39 shipments of Russian oil since Moscow launched its military campaign in Ukraine in late February.
Britain has banned the import of Russian oil and oil products into the UK over the conflict in Ukraine.
Citing tanker traffic data and trade statistics, the Times said Russian-origin oil shipments, worth about £200 ($236) million, were reportedly delivered to UK ports after ship-to-ship transfers.
The cargoes, however, were registered as imports from other countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, France and other countries, said the newspaper.
At least 13 of those reportedly arrived in June and July.
Official figures on oil imports from the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS), however, showed Britain received no oil from Russia in those two months.
“As Vladimir Putin’s army bombarded Ukrainian soldiers trapped in the Azovstal steelworks in May, the tanker Mariner III pulled out of the south Russian port of Tuapse carrying nearly 200,000 barrels of oil,” wrote the report. It said after five days at sea, the ship “stopped alongside a bigger tanker, the Greek-owned Marinoula, in the waters off Kalamata, Greece.” It added “the two vessels were connected by large rubber pipes while the Marinoula siphoned off some of the Mariner’s cargo.”
“After the ship-to-ship transfer, the Marinoula sailed to the UK, where it docked at Immingham in Lincolnshire and, on June 6, offloaded about 250,000 barrels of oil,” the Times wrote.
In Europe, oil and gas shortages stemming from Western sanctions on Russia and a resulting surge in prices have threatened to upend lives and businesses.
The new government of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also faces serious problems to address surging energy prices and prevent future crises from happening, as harsh winter is on the horizon.