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Ukraine Seeks Tougher Oil Restrictions at Russian Ports -NYT

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March 16, 2022

WASHINGTON, March 16 (Reuters) – A top economic adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on the White House to block American companies from all trade in Russian oil and urged Western oil and gas companies to stop handling the commodity, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

In an interview with the U.S. news outlet overnight, Oleg Ustenko said the companies should hire independent accountants to verify no Russian oil is loaded onto their ships, the Times said.

“We need a full embargo, a full boycott. All Russian ports must be closed,” he told the Times from Kyiv as Ukrainian forces entered week three of their defense against Russia’s assault on its neighboring country. 

Ustenko pointed to loopholes he said allow Russian oil producers to continue to export their oil and trade it out of ports such as Novorossiysk, and cited a tanker charted by Chevron Corp carrying a crude oil blend en route to the Netherlands after leaving Novorossiysk on Friday.

Chevron, in a statement to the Times, said the oil aboard the ship was from Kazakhstan and that it was in compliance with U.S. law, adding that it did not operate oil exploration or production businesses in Russia.

U.S. President Joe Biden earlier this month banned new Russia oil and gas imports with a 45-day wind-down period in retaliation for Moscow’s war. He also banned new U.S. investment in Russia’s energy sector and barred Americans from participating in any foreign investments that flow into the Russian energy sector. 

A number of U.S. energy companies have also said they would stop operating in Russia. 

The Biden administration’s restrictions, however, do not bar the shipping of Russia or other oil from Russian ports to other countries, according to the Times, something Ustenko told the outlet violated the spirit of the Western sanctions.

The White House should move to ban U.S. companies from handling any Russian oil and gas exports regardless of their destination, he added.

A National Security Council spokeswoman told the Times while the United States had the energy resources to impose a Russia energy ban, not all of Washington’s allies and partners could do so right now.

(Reporting by Susan HeaveyEditing by Nick Zieminski)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022.

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