The transit of Russian oil through the southern branch of the Druzhba pipeline to the countries of Eastern Europe (Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) was stopped due to the inability of the Russian side to pay for oil transit through Ukrainian territory. The state-owned company Transneft in its report claims that the reason for the lack of payment is the sanctions of the European Union, due to which the correspondent bank refused to pay the Ukrainian side, as a result of which Uktransnafta stopped transit.
Oil supplies have been stopped since August 4, as the Ukrainian company conducts transit only on the basis of 100% prepayment. The Russian side claims that it tried to pay for transit, but the European correspondent bank did not bring the payment to the Ukrainian side and returned the money back to the Gazprombank account.
“Bank GPB (JSC), servicing Transneft, notified that the payment was returned due to the entry into force of EU Regulation 2022/1269. In particular, the procedure for controlling cross-border payments from the Russian Federation was specified. At the moment, European banks (correspondents) are no longer authorized to independently decide on the possibility of conducting a particular operation," Transneft said in a statement.
According to the Russian company, European banks need confirmation from the competent authorities that such a payment does not violate the sanctions, and since there is still no uniform law enforcement within the EU, the responsibility is assumed by the national authorities, which are waiting for consultations with the uniform European authorities. Transneft claims to have warned Ukrtransnafta about the situation, as well as partners responsible for deliveries to Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. At the same time, deliveries along the northern branch of Druzhba, which goes through Poland to Germany, continue as usual, the company notes. The Ukrainian side has not yet commented on the situation with transit.
The European Union, within the framework of the sixth package of sanctions, approved the oil embargo against Russia, but the Druzhba oil pipeline was withdrawn from under it. The exception was lobbied by Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, since the countries have no alternative source of supplies. At the same time, Germany, which receives a significant part of the oil from the northern branch of the Druzhba, planned to voluntarily refuse Russian supplies by the end of 2022.
This is not the first time the Russian side has used sanctions as an argument for reducing energy supplies to the EU. Since June, the Russian authorities and the state-owned company Gazprom have been appealing to sanctions to justify the reduction in gas supplies via Nord Stream. Moscow insisted on the return of the gas turbine for the project, and when the German company Siemens expressed its readiness to return the turbine, Russia had a new requirement - to remove the turbines from restrictions so that the supply of the unit would not violate the European sanctions regime.