Countries buying Russian oil ‘complicit in war crimes’, Ukrainian adviser says | Ukraine
European countries that continue to buy Russian oil and gas, as well as London lawyers and bankers who serve Vladimir Putin’s oligarchs, are complicit in war crimes, the Ukrainian president’s top economic adviser has claimed.
In an exclusive interview with the ObserverOleg Ustenko blasted the “unacceptable” failure of major Western economies to impose an immediate embargo on imports from Russia.
He also issued a warning to companies that have helped Russia continue to sell its oil and gas, the proceeds of which he estimated at $1.4 billion a day, saying kyiv would one day sue commodity traders and insurers involved in dealings with the Putin regime and its industries. .
He said Kyiv was monitoring companies that traded with Russia and promised they would face legal action in the future. “If the Russians commit war crimes, even genocide, whoever provides Russia with this bloody money is committing the same war crime,” Ustenko said.
“We know the name of the ship, the flag, the name of the captain, the volume of oil, we know how much money was paid for this oil, the port of destination, the company that sold the insurance. We will work with this information. We have other things to do that are much more urgent now, but we are watching anyone who does.
“Our belief is that if companies commit war crimes, we will prosecute and prosecute all of those people. Maybe in a year, maybe in 10 years, but we’re going to find those people.
Ustenko has called for much tougher international sanctions against Russia, including the sale of frozen assets such as “football clubs and beautiful apartments”, with proceeds going to Ukraine’s defense and its plan to post-war reconstruction.
“People in Europe … believe they can help us, that they are our great friends, and indeed they are,” Ustenko said. “But they don’t understand that by providing this money to Putin, they are financing his military machine. They use it to kill us, to do the terrible things they did in Bucha and elsewhere.
He said the announcement last week by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who said Berlin would end imports of Russian oil by the end of the year and phase out gas thereafter , did not go far enough. ‘The message…was completely unacceptable, that the Germans are still willing to pay for killing our people,’ he said, adding that Germany would face ‘national disgrace’ unless it acted. faster.
Oil imports could be stopped overnight, and the resulting impact on fuel costs is a price worth paying, he said. Ustenko acknowledged it would be more difficult to wean Europe off gas, but said proceeds from ongoing purchases should be blocked, with Russian suppliers unable to access them until after the war ends.
He also targeted London-based insurers and global commodity trading firms that helped facilitate Russian shipments, as well as the army of lawyers and bankers – many of whom are based in the UK – who serve the Kremlin-allied oligarchs. “Of course we get great support, but that will never be enough. Tankers carrying Russian oil are insured from London,” he said, calling on the British government to prevent the provision of cover for such shipments.
“We don’t understand and we don’t want to see how many Ukrainians have to be killed [before something is done]. It bothers me that in terms of Europe we always talk about money. In Ukraine, we talk about human life.
A spokesman for Lloyd’s of London, the world’s largest insurance marketplace including shipping, said it “supports and remains focused on establishing a global sanctions regime against Russian state, which sends an important message that Russia’s invasion of a peaceful country is unacceptable.” ”.
Global commodity traders such as Trafigura, Glencore, Vitol and Gunvor also continued to buy and sell shipments of Russian oil.
Ustenko said he had personally written to the bosses of the world’s top traders, pleading with them not to continue doing business with Russia. Some responded and promised to sever ties but then broke their promises, he said. Others had not responded and instead continued to trade Russian shipments.
The four commodity traders told the Observer they were legally bound to respect existing contracts but that they condemned the invasion of Ukraine and did not sign new agreements.
Ustenko also urged lawyers and bankers working for Russian oligarchs to imagine their own families suffering the atrocities perpetrated by invading forces in Ukraine. “Are you going to accept this? If so, don’t do anything for us. If you think it’s immoral, then act immediately. Even if your government doesn’t understand, you have the power.
Ustenko said Ukraine’s defense and post-war reconstruction should be funded by seizing frozen assets from Russia’s central bank, as well as those held by sanctioned billionaire oligarchs. “I’m talking about football clubs, I’m talking about beautiful apartments, beautiful houses, I’m talking about other properties in the UK.”