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The UK Government has been urged to restrict Russian vessels from using British ports after it became known that a Russian-owned oil tanker, NS Champion, is due to dock in Orkney, Scotland, this week.
The ship is managed by Sovcomflot, a shipping company majority-owned by the Russian state.
NS Champion is due to berth at Orkney’s Flotta oil terminal on 1 March for the collection of crude oil.
Orkney Islands council stated that the UK Government had advised that at present the ship cannot be declined permission to dock.
A spokesperson was quoted by The Guardian as saying: “As a council, we are in an extremely difficult position. We recognise the strength of feeling around this, feelings that we share, but we are bound by our legal obligations to accept the vessel, until such a time as the UK Government tells us otherwise.”
A UK Government spokesperson revealed that several Russian ships are currently slated to berth at British ports.
The spokesperson said: “We are aware of concerns about Russian-connected ships potentially docking in the UK, and we are working rapidly to explore a range of measures to restrict access for them. We are already discussing this issue with the Scottish Government, and the sanctions being considered are part of a wider package being worked up across the UK Government.”
Last week, France seized a Russian cargo vessel carrying cars suspected of being linked to Russians targeted by sanctions imposed by the US Treasury Department.
Furthermore, since the commencement of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a total of three non-military vessels have been hit.
Last week on Friday, Russian warships bombarded Moldova-flagged chemical tanker Millennial Spirit and Panama-flagged bulk carrier Namura Queen in the Black Sea.
According to Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry, Millennial Spirit was loaded with 600t of diesel at the time of the attack.
Prior to this, Turkish-owned bulk carrier Yasa Jupiter was hit by a missile off the coast of Odessa.
This vessel sustained slight damage and become the first confirmed merchant ship casualty of the Russia-Ukraine war.
Last week, commercial shipping at Ukrainian ports was halted by the country’s military.