President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the world's largest independent oil trader, the Dutch company Vitol, to stop supplying Russian oil and thereby stop financing the mass murder of innocent Ukrainians. According to the publication of the British newspaper The Guardian, the corresponding letter was sent to the company by the President's economic adviser Oleg Ustenko on behalf of the Head of State.
In the letter, Oleg Ustenko asked the oil trading company to state when it will ship the last barrel of Russian oil and how much it will ship until that date.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy first asked Vitol to close its business dealings with Russia in March. In April, the oil trading company stated that volumes of Russian oil handled “will diminish significantly in the second quarter as current term contractual obligations decline”. It also stated that the company plans to “retreat from the Russian market” and stop transporting Russian crude by the end of the year.
But in a letter Oleg Ustenko emphasized those pledges are in tatters. Refinitiv shipping data compiled by Global Witness showed Vitol chartered shipments of more than 11 million barrels of oil through ports in Russia in June. And since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, the energy trading firm has chartered shipments of more than 38 million barrels of oil from Russian ports – worth an estimated $ 3.21 billion and averaging more than 9 million barrels a month.
Ustenko said: “Vitol has been the largest western trader of seaborne Russian oil since the full-scale invasion on February 24. This is brazen profiteering from blood oil that is funding the murder of Ukrainian civilians.”
According to Sam Leon, the head of data investigations at Global Witness, since the invasion, Vitol has been one of the main western enablers of Putin’s deadly trade in fossil fuels.
“Nothing but the toughest embargo on Russian oil will stop them from profiting at the Ukrainian people’s expense,” he is convinced.
As well as exporting Russian oil, Vitol exports Kazakh crude and oil products through Russian ports.
Vitol said in April it would not enter into any new Russian crude and products transactions. The oil trading company has a stake in Vostok Oil, a vast oil and gas oil project in the Arctic in Russia. Vitol said it had agreed to sell its shares and was “in the process of completing the legal formalities” for the sale.
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the US has banned Russian oil imports and the UK intends to phase them out by the end of this year. Oil firms are under pressure to cut ties with Russia. BP has promised to sell off its stake in Russian state-backed Rosneft, while Shell is also selling its Russian assets. Last week Vladimir Putin signed a decree that could force Shell to abandon its stake in a huge Russian gas plant.