Finland wants European intervention against Russian oil spills

Finland recently launched an urgent appeal to the EU (European Union) for the acquisition of a dedicated oil spill response vessel in the Baltic Sea. The initiative is motivated by the increased risk of oil spills due to the increasing use of older and less well-insured Russian tankers. Since the imposition of international sanctions, Russia has been forced to transport its oil using older vessels, often with opaque ownership and without adequate insurance coverage. These conditions exacerbate the risks of spills, particularly in the Gulf of Finland, a crucial shipping lane bordered by Finland and Estonia.

The Russian Tanker Route

Every week, about 70 tankers, each carrying more than 100,000 tons of crude oil, sail through the Gulf of Finland after being loaded in Russian ports such as Primorsk, Ust-Luga, Vysotsk and St. Petersburg. The high concentration of these used tankers on this route increases the likelihood of leaks and spills, especially in winter, when ice conditions further complicate navigation. Currently, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has only one pollution control vessel in the Baltic Sea, stationed in its southern part. This limited capacity is considered insufficient by the Finnish authorities, who are calling for the EMSA fleet to be reinforced with an additional vessel capable of navigating in ice and adapted to the severe conditions of the northern parts of the Baltic Sea.

Increased Risks in Winter

Winter conditions increase the risk of pollution from Russian oil tankers, which are often ill-suited to navigate in icy waters. The joint statement by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency and the Finnish Coast Guard stresses that these old vessels pose a significant environmental hazard. Finland proposes that EMSA launch a procurement procedure for the acquisition of this reserve vessel. This initiative aims to strengthen the European response capacity to a potential ecological disaster in the region. The aim is to prevent oil spills and protect the fragile ecosystem of the Baltic Sea, which is threatened by Russian oil transport activities.
The Finnish request for a European intervention vessel highlights the growing environmental risks associated with Russian oil transport in the Baltic Sea. With increasing international sanctions, old Russian tankers pose an increasingly pressing threat to European waters. A proactive response from the European Union, through the acquisition of suitable vessels, could not only prevent ecological disasters, but also strengthen maritime security in this strategic region.

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