Greece has seized a Russian oil tanker off the island of Evia, the Greek coastguard said on Tuesday. A US advocacy group said it was carrying Iranian oil.
A Greek shipping ministry official said the 115,500-tonne Russian-flagged Pegas, with 19 Russian crew members, had been seized under European Union sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis.
The vessel was seized near Karystos on Evia’s southern coast, just off the mainland near Athens. Earlier this month, the EU banned Russian-flagged vessels, with exemptions, from its ports.
The US advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), which supports US sanctions against Iran and monitors tanker traffic through satellite tracking, said the Pegas − renamed the Lana in March − had loaded 700,000 barrels of crude oil from Sirri Island, Iran, on August 19, 2021. The tanker headed to Greece after trying unsuccessfully to unload the oil at a Turkish port, UANI said.
The Pegas tanker was also among five vessels sanctioned by the United States on Feb. 22, 2022 - two days before Russia's invasion of Ukraine - as part of broader sanctions against Promsvyazbank, a bank Washington described as critical to Russia's defence sector.
Promsvyazbank said it and its unit PSB Lizing were not the owners of the tanker as it was bought back by its owner in April 2021.
Promsvyazbank did not name the new owner. PSB Lizing said the owner was TransMorFlot. TransMorFlot was not available for comment.
Greek sources close to the matter said that following checks there were no legal grounds to continue impounding the Pegas as the ship had recently changed ownership and its new owner was not on an EU sanctions list.