McArthur seeks support from First Minister to sanction Russian vessels

Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has today sought the support of the First Minister to sanction and deny access to Scottish ports for Russian-owned vessels following Vladimir Putin's attack on Ukraine.

Mr McArthur has raised with the First Minister concerns about the arrival in Orkney of Russian owned oil tanker, NS Champion, on Tuesday next week.  In a call with the Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport this afternoon, Orkney's MSP sought the support of the Scottish Government in making representations to the UK Government to ensure sanctions are used to prevent the vessel's access to Scapa Flow.

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has written to the Prime Minister having raised similar concerns with Mr Johnson last week in Westminster in relation to another Russian oil tanker docking at Sullom Voe in Shetland.  NS Challenger, like NS Champion is owned and operated by Sovcomflot, a company wholly owned by the Russian Government.

Mr Carmichael wrote to the Prime Minister this morning calling on Sovcomflot to be sanctioned and denied access to British ports immediately ahead of the expected arrival NS Champion to Flotta oil terminal in Orkney on Tuesday, another Sovcomflot operated tanker.

Orkney's representatives met with the Orkney Harbours Authority yesterday (Friday) to discuss the situation and committed to taking steps to ensure such vessels are denied access to our waters.  These vessels currently operate freely and cannot be legally denied access to ports by local harbour authorities.

Commenting, Mr McArthur said:

"The invasion of Ukraine ordered by Vladmir Putin has sickened people across Orkney and around the world.  It is a blatant breach of international law and a threat to our liberal, democratic order.

"It is right that the UK has taken steps to freeze assets and cut off economic ties with Russia, but we need to do more.  In keeping with the rationale for sanctions there can be no question of these vessels, operated by companies who are owned by the Russian state, accessing ports in this country.

"While this is something that will need to be resolved at a UK level, I have urged the First Minister and Transport Secretary to lend the Scottish Government support in efforts to stop these vessels.

"With the Orkney community showing its solidarity with the Ukrainian people at a vigil outside St Magnus Cathedral, there can be no question of the NS Champion being allowed to enter Scapa Flow next week."

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