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Politics / Government bans all Russian shipping from UK ports

RUSSIAN tankers and other shipping have been banned from UK ports as part of sanctions imposed by the government against Russia.

UK transport secretary Grant Shapps has now asked all UK ports not to provide access to any Russian flagged, registered, owned, controlled, chartered or operated vessel.

It comes as a number of Russian tankers owned by Sovcomflot, a state owned shipping company, have been operating in and out of Scotland’s oil ports over recent days.

Last week the NS Challenger loaded a cargo of crude oil at the port of Sullom Voe on the same day Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine. Meanwhile a second tanker, the NS Champion, was due to visit Flotta terminal, in Orkney, on Tuesday.

Trade union Unite had already declared its support for the crews working on harbour tugs should they decide to boycott the docking of any Russian owned tanker.

The issue of Russian tankers loading North Sea crude at Scottish ports was first raised in parliament by isles MP Alistair Carmichael last Thursday following a report by Shetland News.

Now the transport secretary has made it clear that these ships are not welcome and added that legislation to prohibit them from using UK port would follow.

In a letter, published on Twitter, Shapps described Russia’s assault on Ukraine as an “unprovoked, premeditated attack against a sovereign democratic state”.

“In these circumstances the Department for Transport does not consider it appropriate for Russian vessels to continue to enter UK ports.

“From this point onwards, UK ports are asked not to provide access to any ship which they have reason to believe is:

  • Owned, controlled, chartered, or operated by any person connected with Russia
  • Owned, controlled, chartered of operated by designated persons
  • flying the Russian flag
  • Registered in Russia.”
Highlands and Islands Conservative Jamie Halcro Johnston.

The move was welcomed by Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston who had previously expressed his concern over the scheduled visit of the NS Champion.

Halco Johnston, who lives in Orkney, said: “I welcome the action the UK Government has taken – and recognise that this has been a complicated situation to address and not as straightforward as some have suggested.

“There has been considerable local anger in Orkney, and wider afield, at the prospect of a Russian state-owned tanker visiting our islands. I applaud the efforts of folk in the islands who have come together, made our community’s voice clear and helped bring about a resolution to this situation.

“The appalling attack by Putin on a peaceful and democratic country has shocked and angered the world.

“Today’s action by the UK Government – and the efforts of our local community here in the islands – send a clear message that we stand with Ukraine against the Putin regime’s interests.”

Welcoming that the NS Champion will now not be arriving in Orkney this week, Isles MP Alistair Carmichael said the legal status of the ban still needed to be clarified.

Isles MP speaking in parliament last week.

“The news that the government will ban Russian owned and operated vessels from using UK ports is perhaps somewhat overdue but enormously welcome. It will be a relief for my constituents who were ready to protest and to take to their boats to prevent such arrivals – and a relief for all right-minded people who oppose Vladimir Putin’s bloodthirsty regime,” he said.

“Having pressed the case with ministers – perhaps to the point of annoyance – through the weekend I am glad that they have taken the action that I and so many others have been calling for in blocking Sovcomflot and all similarly-owned vessels.

“The proof of course shall be in the detail and we shall be looking carefully to ensure that this hits vessels like the NS Champion which was due to arrive in Orkney imminently. There is much more that can and must be done to oppose Putin’s aggression, but this is a significant and positive step.”

The chairman of Shetland Islands Council’s transport and environment committee Ryan Thomson added: “The announcement that Russian owned tankers will no longer be able to visit our islands for the foreseeable future is welcome news.

“There is no point in having sanctions on Russia and continue to allow Russian registered tankers to load oil at Sullom Voe. It’s a move that had to happen, and I thank those who have worked so hard to make it happen so swiftly.”