19:06 Nov. 22, 2016
Russia violates the EU ban on delivering fuel to Syria through its waters
Russian-flagged tankers have smuggled jet fuel to Syria through the EU territorial waters, the Reuters agency has learned.
At least two Russian ships were spotted delivering the cargo via Cypriot and Greek ports, an intelligence source told the agency on the condition of anonymity.
Under EU Council Regulation 1323/2014, introduced two years ago, any supply of jet fuel to Syria from the EU territories is banned, whether or not the fuel originated in the European Union, the agency marks.
Despite the direct ban, Russian tankers smuggled 20,000 tonnes of jet fuel to Syria via EU waters, delivering a total amount worth USD 9 million at today's world prices.
"The jet fuel shipments from these vessels have played a vital role in maintaining Russian air strikes in the region," said the Reuters source. "This points to a sustained Russian build-up of resources needed to support their military operation and ambitions in Syria."
The Greek authorities declined to comment on the matter, while the Cypriot government said it had not approved the docking of any Russian tankers carrying any banned cargo for Syria. The Russian defence department also did not react to Reuters requests.
The information provided by the source is confirmed by publicly available data of ship-traffic. At least two Russian tankers, the Yaz and Mukhalatka have stopped in Greece and Limassol in Cyprus in September and October, the Reuters notes.
Also, according to Reuters source, Russia often uses ships under other countries' flags to get over the EU bans on delivering fuel to Syria.