Ukraine-Russia conflict: Oil tanker cancels Orkney visit after Russian ships denied access to UK ports

An oil tanker will no longer dock in Orkney after it was announced Russian vessels are to be denied access to UK ports.

UK transport secretary Grant Shapps announced the measure as part of ongoing sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s regime following the invasion of Ukraine.

The move was welcomed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who previously said she did not want the tanker to dock.

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The NS Champion tanker was due to arrive at the Flotta oil terminal on Tuesday.

The Russian tanker NS Champion was due to arrive in Orkney on Tuesday. Picture: Kees Torn/Wikimedia Commons

It belongs to shipping company Sovcomflot, a firm that is majority owned by the Russian state. Orkney Islands Council had said it was powerless to prevent it docking.

In his letter to all UK ports, Mr Shapps said the maritime sector “must play our part” in sanctioning Russia.

He wrote: “Russia’s assault on Ukraine is an unprovoked, premeditated attack against a sovereign democratic state.

"The UK Government has been clear there would be massive consequences and a severe cost for any Russian military incursion into Ukraine, and, in co-ordination with our international allies and partners, we are developing an unprecedented package of further sanctions.

“The maritime sector is fundamental to international trade and we must play our part in restricting Russia’s economic interests and holding the Russian government to account.

“In these circumstances the Department for Transport does not consider it appropriate for Russian vessels to continue to enter UK ports.

"From this point onwards, UK ports are asked not to provide access to any ship which they have reason to believe is owned, controlled, chartered, or operated by any person connected with Russia; owned, controlled, chartered or operated by designated persons; flying the Russian flag; registered in Russia.

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“We will seek to support UK ports in identifying Russian ships within scope of the above and will communicate directly with relevant ports when we identify ships bound for UK ports who fall within scope of the above.

“Further detailed sanctions against Russian shipping are being developed and further details will be shared very shortly.”

Ms Sturgeon tweeted: “This is good. I had a constructive conversation with Grant Shapps y’day evening in light of the planned docking of a Russian vessel in Orkney, and I welcome this step while legislation for longer term takes effect.”

Orkney Islands Council leader James Stockan said: “Over the weekend, officers worked tirelessly to try and find a solution to the issue of the visiting tanker, in order to support the strength of feeling that is running not only in our community, but throughout our organisation too.

“We welcomed the announcement this afternoon from the UK Government's Secretary of State for Transport. This was very much one of the avenues we have been exploring over the last few days. That announcement was followed by news from the ship’s agent that they were cancelling the visit.

“This was a very complex, fast-moving situation – and we have ultimately achieved the best possible outcome. Our thanks go out to all that have contributed to this outcome, but most of all sincere thanks to our incredible community as their role in this cannot be underestimated.”

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