Cargo switching for crude oil and gas products in international waters is not only being used by Russia, but it’s also common knowledge it’s also being used by Iran to get around Western sanctions. Bloomberg recently reported that “A Bay Off Southern Greece Becomes a Cog in Russia’s Oil Supply Chain”, apparently the Bay of Lakonikos has become a hub for the cargo switching of Russian and Iranian oil.
In reality the oil sanctions against both Russia and Iran are very much paper tigers… Business goes on as usual… So, if it’s common knowledge the sanctions are being side stepped why is no one taking action to enforce the sanctions and punish those doing the sidestepping? Is it because too many people are making money, as usual, or is it because those on the front line of enforcement are not interested in unnecessary confrontations and repercussions?
Why is the US and it allies not taking action against these offshore cargo switching operations? Well it tried, in July 2019 Royal Marines seize the tanker, “Grace 1” which was suspected of carrying oil to Syria in violations of European Union sanctions. But in August 2019 The Supreme Court in the British territory of Gibraltar release of the ship with its crew and cargo to continue its voyage. On April 15 2022 Greek coast guards seized a Russian oil taker “Lana” anchored off Karystos that was carrying 100,000 tons of Iranian crude, in violation of US and EU sanctions on Iran. The cargo of oil was offloaded and at one point was going to be transferred to the US, but in August 2022 the oil was reloaded on to the “Lana”, which was then released.
While these incidents were going on the Iranians were not just taking legal action and claiming the actions were acts of maritime piracy, but also seizing and detaining ships flagged from UK and Greece. A simple case of counter-hijacking or kidnapping, which as usual when such a tactic is applied, it’s worked. You need to be very careful if your try to play gangster with real gangsters…
So, it’s obvious in this game of sanctions that many people hearts are not fully in the battle, shall we say. Is it because they don’t want to lose business and money from the trade in sanctioned oil, or they fear the repercussions of a confrontation with Iran or Russia more than they fear the US? Or are they looking to the future and are not willing to burn their bridges for future trade with Iran or Russia when the sanctions are lifted? These are simple questions with obvious answers for those that can think logically and clearly.
If you believe the hard-line war hawk rhetoric coming from the US and NATO politicians should they not be sending their Navy’s to deal with these sanction busting ships, crews, companies and facilitators? But they are not, and I will let you come the conclusion of why not!