This article first appeared on ntv.de
Nine packages of sanctions, import bans for Russian crude oil by sea and price caps: since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the West has been trying to punish the Russian economy for the war that violates international law. But the big effect seems to be missing. One reason could be huge loopholes: a new analysis shows how a "backdoor" for Russian oil exports is forming in Turkey and India.
It is true that oil exports from Russia to western countries have declined since the beginning of the war. Refineries in India and Turkey increased their imports from Russia last year, as the British newspaper "Guardian" reports. According to data from a study by the NGO Global Witness, Turkey imported 143 million barrels of crude oil from Russia last year. This corresponds to an increase of 50 percent compared to 2021.
These increased imports could also reach Europe via Turkey or India. As the "Guardian" reports, there is no evidence that the products come directly from Russian crude oil. However, according to the Global Witness study, at least large quantities of oil are imported from Russia to Turkey – immediately refined there or mixed with crude oil from other countries. According to the analysis, oil company Shell has ordered a total of more than 600,000 barrels of refined products from Turkish refineries to the Netherlands since December 5, when the EU imposed an import ban on Russian crude oil by sea.
The example of the Turkish company Star also shows how likely it is that Russian crude oil will be imported from Turkey to Europe. According to the Guardian, the refinery dominated trade with Russia in Turkey. In 2022, the firm sourced more than 60 million barrels of crude oil from Russia, accounting for 73 percent of its imports. A second refinery in the Turkish city of Izmit also processes crude oil from Russia. Vitol, the world's largest independent energy trader, has sourced 2.77 million barrels from these two refineries for delivery to Latvia, Cyprus and the Netherlands since the start of the war in Ukraine.
Since December 5, the EU has imported five million barrels of refined products from Turkey, according to The Guardian. In all of last year, it was 20 million barrels from refineries processing Russian oil. The Star company alone exported 17 million barrels of refined products to the EU in 2022.