Greenpeace's Ukraine war protesters chain kayaks to Russian oil tanker

Greenpeace’s Ukraine war protesters chain kayaks to Russian oil tanker

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Ukraine war protesters in kayaks and a rubber dinghy have chained themselves to an oil tanker in Norway to prevent what they say is the delivery of nearly 100,000 metric tons of Russian oil, Greenpeace said Monday.

“Oil is not only at the root of the climate crisis, but also of wars and conflicts,” Frode Pleym, program manager for Greenpeace Norway, said in a statement.

“I am shocked that Norway operates as a free port for Russian oil, which we know finances [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s warfare,” Pleym continued.

Greenpeace said the activists want a ban on Russian oil imports in Norway and for Esso, a subsidiary of US-based ExxonMobil, to “cancel its contracts to buy fossil fuel from Russia in this time of war.” The group also included members of Extinction Rebellion, a global network of climate change activists.

“Esso claims to be opposed to the war in Ukraine, but their actions make them complicit in financing the Russian war machine and profiting off the suffering of the Ukrainian people,” Extinction Rebellion activist Vebjorn Bjelland Berg said in a statement provided by a spokesperson for the Norway chapter, Even Tomte.

Photos from the scene show fewer than 10 activists floating in small boats by the tanker and holding up signs that read “Oil fuels war” and “Stop fueling the war.”

Local television station TV2 reported that as many as 10 people were arrested in the incident. Tomte cited a higher figure, saying 15 activists with his group and seven from Greenpeace were detained.

Greenpeace said in a statement that the “peaceful action” is taking place in the Oslo Fjord, in the Slagentangen oil port owned by Esso.

Richard Scrase, a spokesperson for ExxonMobil, said that Esso was fulfilling prewar contracts and complying with sanctions.

“We have not made any new purchases of Russian products since the invasion, and there are no plans for future purchases,” Scrase said in an emailed statement. “We support the internationally coordinated efforts to bring Russia’s unprovoked attack to an end.”

The protest highlights the controversy around Russian oil in Europe. European countries are highly dependent on Russia to meet their oil and gas needs, and have so far not imposed a wholesale embargo, even as activists say the money from the purchase of Russian oil and gas is financing the war in Ukraine.

Greenpeace said the activists in kayaks and a dinghy attached themselves to the anchor chain of the ship, the Ust Luga, to prevent it from offloading about 95,000 metric tons of oil into an oil terminal off the coast of Asgardstrand, a port town south of Oslo . The organization, which campaigns for environmental and other causes, estimated that the ship’s cargo was worth $116 million.

The Ust Luga is registered in Hong Kong, according to the website Marine Traffic. Greenpeace said the tanker is operated by Novatek, a major Russian producer of natural gas.

According to Marine Traffic, the Ust Luga was anchored in the waters of southeastern Norway, close to the Slagen oil terminal owned by ExxonMobil’s Esso Norway. A tug boat was nearing it around 3:25 pm local time, and a law enforcement ship was nearby.

Greenpeace activists are best known for staging colorful stunts to draw attention to the climate crisis, but the global nonprofit network also advocates for “peace, global disarmament and nonviolence.”

Pleym is seeking to call attention to climate issues as well as the war. “During these two months of Russia’s war of aggression, we have seen horrific images and know the unimaginable suffering of the innocent civilian population of Ukraine,” Pleym said. “The fact that our government still allows the import of Russian fossil fuels in the current situation is unfathomable.

“…The Ukrainian president has called on Europe to halt Russian fossil fuels. And with good reason,” Pleym continued. “Putin’s sources of revenue must be dried out immediately and banning oil import is a very good place to start. We need to make this war stop.”

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