UK considers banning Russian ships from UK ports | shipping industry

The UK government is considering barring Russian ships from calling at British ports after it was revealed that a Russian oil tanker is due to dock in Orkney this week.

The NS Champion, operated by Sovcomflot, a major shipping company majority-owned by the Russian state, is scheduled to dock at the Flotta oil terminal in Orkney on Tuesday to collect crude oil.

To the dismay of politicians and islanders – including Ukrainian residents who took part in an anti-war demonstration in Kirkwall, the archipelago’s largest city, on Saturday – the Orkney Islands Council said the UK government had said the UK government was not currently permitting the ship to sail creation can be refused.

“As a community, we are in an extremely difficult situation,” said a spokesman. “We recognize the strength of feelings in this regard – feelings we share – but we are bound by our legal obligations to accept the ship until the UK Government tells us otherwise.”

A UK government spokesman said a number of Russian ships are scheduled to dock in UK ports despite tightening trade embargoes on Russian companies and state entities.

Last week, the French seized a Russian cargo ship carrying cars suspected of being linked to Russians hit by US Treasury sanctions.

“We are aware of the concerns about vessels with Russian links that may dock in the UK and we are working quickly to consider a range of measures to limit access for them,” the spokesman said.

“We are already discussing this issue with the Scottish Government and the sanctions under consideration are part of a wider package being drawn up across the UK Government.”

Angus Robertson, the Scottish Government’s foreign secretary, told BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show: “The UK authorities have an important decision to make about whether we will allow Russian-owned ships or those on a charter to call at British ports.

“[This] is a very fast-moving situation and I think we have to act decisively.”

At Saturday’s protests against the invasion, Nataliia Kuzmina, a Ukrainian resident of Orkney, told the BBC she was upset that the ship could arrive. She said her parents stayed in Ukraine and her father volunteered to defend their city but had no weapons.

“Every little thing counts now. Hundreds of people across Europe will do a small act like this, stop buying Russian products, stop filling tankers with oil,” she said. “It is important and I feel it my duty to turn this tanker away from Scapa Flow.”

Jamie Halcro Johnston, a Scottish Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands, said he raised the issue with Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary, on Saturday morning; Jack said it was raised with the Prime Minister’s office.

“The UK has already closed our airspace to Russian airlines and our waters should be closed to Russian state shipping as well,” Halcro Johnston said.

“It is important that, given the measures already taken against Putin’s regime and his interests, we ensure that no loopholes remain for Russian state interests to exploit.”

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