Russian oil tanker in Orkney: Boris Johnson must intervene

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson and MP for Orkney and Shetland Alistair Carmichael has written to Boris Johnson urging him to sanction and deny Russian-owned vessels access to UK ports following Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine.

Alistair Carmichael MP

In his letter, Mr Carmichael highlighted his previous exchange with Mr Johnson in Parliament in which the Prime Minister indicated that new measures meant the government could sanction Russian-owned companies like Sovcomflot, one of the largest petroleum shipping companies in the world.

One Sovcomflot vessel (NS Challenger) has already departed from Sullom Voe terminal in Shetland with a second, the NS Champion, due to arrive at Flotta terminal in Orkney on Tuesday. Currently such vessels operate freely and cannot legally be denied access to ports by local authorities.

Mr Carmichael also highlighted that during the Second World War the Royal Navy flagship, the Royal Oak, was sunk in the Scapa Flow by a German U-boat with 835 crew members losing their lives. He warned that allowing open access to Sovcomflot would “dishonour the memory of the sacrifice that the crew of the Royal Oak made in their fight against fascism” and called for action immediately.

Speaking to the North West Liberal Democrat Conference on Saturday, he highlighted the issue facing the Shetland terminal, and added that similar issues could face ports across the North West of England, as well as the rest of the UK.

Commenting Alistair Carmichael MP said: “With the conflict in Ukraine still raging, it’s vital that all countries step up their sanctions against Putin and his cronies.

“Companies like Sovcomflot are owned by the Russian Government, so the money they make goes straight back to the Kremlin and helps fund Vladimir Putin’s war machine.

“It’s unthinkable that our sanctions do not extend to companies operating in our ports, allowing money to still make its way back to Moscow. Boris Johnson says he has the power to stop this, so now he has to use it.

“We must stand with the Ukrainian people, who are bravely resisting the invasion of their homeland, and ensure no Russian ships cannot use UK ports to fund Putin’s war.”

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