Tanker with oil from Russia slips through loophole in UK ban

The Pluto’s Marshall Islands flag means sanctions would not prevent it docking in Derry

Russia-Ukraine crisis: live news

Last modified on Wed 2 Mar 2022 13.01 EST

A cargo of oil from Russia is en route to a British port where it is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday evening, due to a loophole in the ban imposed this week by the government in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Department for Transport said on Tuesday it had implemented a ban closing British ports to all ships that are Russian-owned, operated, controlled, chartered, registered or flagged.

However, the department has confirmed that the prohibition does not cover the origin of the cargo.

On Tuesday, as the law was being passed, the Pluto was moored at Milford Haven in south Wales and was scheduled to dock next in Derry, Northern Ireland.

According to the ship tracking website Marine Traffic, the 184m-long Pluto was under way in the Irish Sea on Wednesday afternoon, with a scheduled arrival time at the city’s docks, known as Foyle Port, at 8pm.

Three ways you can help the people of Ukraine from the UK

Support local charities

There are several Ukrainian charities working on the ground. Sunflower of Peace is a charity that helps paramedics and doctors, and has been fundraising for supplies, which includes first aid medical tactical backpacks.

United Help Ukraine focuses on providing medical supplies and humanitarian aid, and raising awareness of the conflict.

Voices of Children aims to help children affected by the war in eastern Ukraine, providing support through art therapy, psychologists, video storytelling and a number of other methods.

The British Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal to help Ukraine. The charity will be updating its webpage with news on the work its team is doing, and how support will be used to help people.

Support local journalism

English-language news outlets based in the country, such as Kyiv Independent and the New Voice of Ukraine, are covering developments on the ground as the conflict unfolds, using local journalists. The Kyiv Independent says it was created by journalists in order to defend editorial independence. This site on Twitter covers many local journalists in Ukraine.

Write to your local MP

This can be a way to lobby the British government to place further sanctions on the Russian government and its associates. You can get in touch with your local MP via email or post to their constituency address. Instructions on how to get in touch can be found on parliament.uk.

The Guardian understands that Foyle Port expects to receive the vessel and does not believe that the measures brought in by the DfT cover the Pluto.

The vessel is bringing crude oil from Primorsk terminal, near St Petersburg, which accounts for 30% of oil exports from the country.

The Guardian has approached Foyle Port for comment.

On Monday, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, wrote: “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.”

The Pluto is registered with the Marshall Islands and flies the Pacific archipelago’s flag.

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