Greece seizes Russian tanker amid EU sanctions on Russia

ATHENS, April 19 (Reuters) – Greece has seized a Russian tanker off the island of Evia, the Greek coast guard said on Tuesday, as part of European Union sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion from Ukraine.

Earlier this month, the EU banned Russian-flagged vessels from ports in the 27-nation bloc, with some exemptions, as it passed sweeping new sanctions against Russia for what the Kremlin describes as ” special military operation”.

The 115,500 deadweight ton Pegas flying the Russian flag, with 19 Russian crew on board, was seized near Karystos on the southern coast of Euboea, which lies just off the Greek mainland near Athens.

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The Russian Embassy in Athens, the Greek capital, said on Twitter that it was looking into the matter and was in contact with Greek authorities.

“It was seized under EU sanctions,” an official from Greece’s shipping ministry said.

A US State Department spokesperson said the United States welcomed Greece’s efforts to implement the sanctions “launched in response to Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine”.

“We are aware of reports that the tanker is loaded with Iranian crude oil,” the spokesman added, without taking a position on the veracity of this information.

A Greek Coast Guard official said the ship’s oil cargo had not been confiscated. The identity of the charterer of the cargo was unclear, but the ship was managed by the Russian company Transmorflot.

Transmorflot was not immediately available for comment.

The Pegas, renamed Lana in March, had previously reported an engine problem. It was heading south of the Peloponnese peninsula to unload its cargo on another tanker, but rough seas forced it to tie up just off Karystos where it was seized, the news agency reported. from Athens.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the ship was still moored in Karystos Bay, Reuters witnesses said.

US advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), which monitors Iran-linked tanker traffic through ship and satellite tracking, said the Pegas had loaded around 700,000 barrels of crude oil from the Iranian island of Sirri on August 19, 2021.

It then attempted to offload the cargo at a Turkish port before heading to Greece, UANI said according to its analysis.

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Reporting by Renee Maltezou, Jonathan Saul and Dmitry Zhdannikov; Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Saint Paul, Minnesota; Editing by Mark Heinrich, Alexander Smith and Lincoln Feast.

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