The Baltic Sea states are seeking joint action against the rogue Russian oil fleet

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Democratic countries bordering the Baltic Sea called on Friday for coordinated measures to thwart controversial Russian oil exports on barely seaworthy ships.

At the end of a two-day meeting in Porvoo, near the Finnish capital Helsinki, foreign ministers of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) expressed their deep concern about “Russia’s increased hybrid operations, including sabotage and acts of violence, which in the Baltic Sea region.”

These operations include “disinformation campaigns, malicious cyber activities, electronic interference and activities aimed at deteriorating critical infrastructure,” the group said in a statement.

In light of these and other threats posed by Russia since it invaded Ukraine in 2022, it was crucial to strengthen resilience and crisis response capabilities, the ministers said.

They reiterated their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and called for stronger action against Russia’s so-called shadow fleet, including tightening sanctions.

Western countries accuse Russia of often using dangerously dilapidated ships to avoid EU sanctions imposed after the 2022 invasion.

In this way, Russia can circumvent a Western price ceiling on its oil exports to third countries by using ships that are not owned by Western shipping companies or insured by Western insurers.

However, this poses a major threat to the oceans and especially to the Baltic Sea, which is prone to oil pollution, the council noted.

The shadow fleet also undermines international rules on maritime safety and the liability and compensation system, the CBSS said.

In addition, the shipment of Russian oil to circumvent sanctions contributed to Russia’s ability to wage its war against Ukraine.

Founded in 1992, the CBSS includes the eight countries bordering the Baltic Sea – Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Sweden – as well as Iceland, Norway and the EU.

As a result of the war in Ukraine, Russia’s membership was suspended in March 2022 and Russia withdrew from the CBSS in May 2022.

Annalena Baerbock (R), the German Foreign Minister, and Elina Valtonen, the Foreign Minister of Finland, meet for bilateral talks on the sidelines of the Council of the Baltic Sea States.  Kay Nietfeld/dpaAnnalena Baerbock (R), the German Foreign Minister, and Elina Valtonen, the Foreign Minister of Finland, meet for bilateral talks on the sidelines of the Council of the Baltic Sea States.  Kay Nietfeld/dpa

Annalena Baerbock (R), the German Foreign Minister, and Elina Valtonen, the Foreign Minister of Finland, meet for bilateral talks on the sidelines of the Council of the Baltic Sea States. Kay Nietfeld/dpa

Annalena Baerbock (R), the German Foreign Minister, and Elina Valtonen, the Foreign Minister of Finland, meet for bilateral talks on the sidelines of the Council of the Baltic Sea States.  Kay Nietfeld/dpaAnnalena Baerbock (R), the German Foreign Minister, and Elina Valtonen, the Foreign Minister of Finland, meet for bilateral talks on the sidelines of the Council of the Baltic Sea States.  Kay Nietfeld/dpa

Annalena Baerbock (R), the German Foreign Minister, and Elina Valtonen, the Foreign Minister of Finland, meet for bilateral talks on the sidelines of the Council of the Baltic Sea States. Kay Nietfeld/dpa

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