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Russian comment on the seizure of the Panama-flagged tanker by Gibraltar authorities

| Moscow (Russia)
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We condemn the seizure of the super tanker sailing under the Panama flag on July 4, conducted by the Gibraltar authorities aided by Great Britain’s Royal Marine Commando unit.

We view the seizure of the vessel and its cargo as a deliberate action aimed at aggravating the situation around Iran and Syria. Laudatory comments by top US and British officials immediately after the operation confirm this conclusion and prove that the action had been long in the making with the involvement of respective services and agencies of several countries.

Gibraltar’s reference to the fact that the cargo aboard the vessel was meant to be delivered to a Syrian oil refinery hit by EU sanctions only aggravates the situation. The following question arises: Does this circumstance mean that the EU is following in the US’ footsteps and resorting to extraterritorial sanctions against third countries, even though this cannot follow even from the respective and very controversial decisions of the European Council? Perhaps Gibraltar authorities will get some clarity about it since they have reportedly written to the European Commission and the European Council about the case.

In any event, we are convinced that this step contradicts the stated intent of the EU’s leading nations, including the UK, to work to preserve the nuclear agreements with Iran. In recent days, Iran’s representatives from different levels of government have stated a number of times that their country did not get any economic benefit from the nuclear deal largely due to the European participants’ failure to find effective methods of work under the conditions when the United States withdrew from the JCPOA and, moreover, imposed sanctions on anyone set to continue acting under international law and pursue lawful economic cooperation with Iran.

The Syrian aspect of the situation is no less important. Great Britain does not conceal that its eagerness to ratchet up pressure on the “Assad regime” played a crucial role in the tanker incident. We see here yet another sharp contrast between British officials’ statements in support of Syrian settlement on the basis of universally accepted norms of international law, including UNSC Resolution 2254, and their practical steps.

The Middle East, including Eastern Mediterranean, is riddled with problems, largely as a result of the irresponsible policy of the Western nations, and those problems beg for a different approach. Dialogue and joint search for solutions is needed. Instead, London, Washington and some other capitals are looking for pretexts to launch a further escalation.

The consequences may be dire, and the full weight of responsibility will be with those who keep trying to exert maximum illegitimate pressure on Tehran and Damascus in violation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2231 and 2254.

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