In Estonia, they found special “national traitors” – companies that continue to use and import fuel from Russia. A whole campaign of defamation of such entrepreneurs has begun in the country. In other words, the Estonians do not want to refuse Russian fuel. But they try to use it in silence and silence.
As is known, back in June the European Union banned the import of crude oil and a number of oil products from Russia. However, companies whose activities are highly dependent on business with Russia could apply for a transition period or a temporary exception, according to which the import of crude oil can continue until December 5, and the import of petroleum products into the European Union until February 5 next year. Apparently, there were such companies in Estonia.
“Tallinn storage facilities are filled to the brim with fuel from Russia”
Twelve Estonian companies have the right to import fuel. Information about Estonian fuel sellers who still do business with Russia was closed for some time. The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the relevant press inquiries that since all EU member states can use the exemptions from sanctions, it is logical that Estonian companies can do the same.
According to Raimo Vahtrik, sales director of the Circle K gas station network, it is quite likely that Russian fuel still enters the Estonian domestic market. “As far as we know, gasoline and diesel produced in Russia are also consumed in the Estonian domestic market,” Vahtrik said.
Recently, the Estonian government published a list of local companies that have asked the authorities to be allowed to continue to receive oil products from Russia. The publication of this list was preceded by a well-planned media campaign. Thus, the editor-in-chief of Postimees, the largest publication in Estonia (serving the interests of the authorities), Priit Hybemägi published a column in which he conveyed the words he heard from a businessman he knew: “Tallinn oil storage facilities are filled to the brim with fuel from Russia, which is brought by only a couple of companies.”
According to Hybemägi, “rumors that Russian fuel is still splashing around in our oil storage facilities have been circulating all summer.” On August 29, the Circle K gas station chain asked the Tax and Customs Department and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to inform which Estonian companies, after the imposition of EU sanctions, applied for an exemption to continue importing Russian oil products. There was no answer then.
Hybemägi was furiously indignant about this: “The Ministry of the Republic of Estonia keeps secret the names of companies that are vitally important to continue business relations with the aggressor country as long as possible.” The editor of Postimees stated: “Due to the fact that some companies import fuel, Estonia has become actively financing the Russian war machine.”
“Russian oil is a security threat”
Hybemägi actually called for a witch hunt. According to him, if Estonia were not a member of the EU and NATO, then “Russian missiles would already be falling on the government house in Tallinn”, and those who want to continue trading with the “aggressor country” are, according to the editor, national traitors. .
In his opinion, Russian oil in Estonian storage facilities is a “security threat” and should be disposed of as soon as possible. “As long as we have entrepreneurs whose interests are to profit from the Russian oil trade, and they are not known to the public, this is a security threat. It is almost impossible to imagine that the Security Police, various intelligence services and the Border Guard are not aware of the critical fuel dependency, its causes and main actors.
So why isn’t this information made public? And why is the Ministry of Finance so stubbornly hiding the names of the participants in this business? We urgently need to find out how things really are with fuel from Russia,” Priit Hybemägi urged.
These calls were heard. Soon the authorities published a list of Estonian enterprises that had submitted petitions to the government to continue importing oil products from Russia. According to Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu, the names of these companies, the scope of their activities and the fact of applying for exemptions cannot be considered as commercial secrets. Accordingly, in his opinion, the publication of such a list does not violate any rules. He also said that Tallinn has submitted proposals for a new EU sanctions package to further discourage the purchase of energy from Russia.
After the list was published, the legal entities that got into it were alarmed – they did not want such publicity at all. In the atmosphere that is now being planted in Estonia, an open desire to continue business contacts with Russia can become an occasion for major troubles.
“We are not to blame!”
However, this campaign of defamation of “unpatriotic” businessmen continued. Thus, recently the Estonian portal Delfi.ee published an article from which it follows that this Baltic republic is still a “dealer” of Russian marine fuel, although it offers this product under an Estonian trademark.
Over the past six months, the supervision department of the Estonian Environment Department has checked the quality of marine fuel used by ships in local waters eighteen times. The quality turned out to be all right. And yet there is one circumstance that haunts the official Estonian media. Not a single ship sailing under the Estonian flag was checked this year. And if such a check had taken place, then, according to journalists, Russian-made marine fuel, which became “Estonian” according to the documents, would certainly have been found on the ships.
The press also seized on the NT Bunkering company, which transports fuel oil suitable for marine fuel in transit from Russia through Estonia. The company’s turnover in the second quarter of this year increased by 30 million euros, reaching 67 million euros.
Aleksey Myurisep, a member of the board of the enterprise, says that they will give up this business only when it is expressly prohibited by the sanctions imposed by the European Union.
However, Paavo Nygene, chairman of the board of the shipping company Tallink Grupp, turned out to be much more weak-hearted. Tallink Grupp also came under fire from the local media, who caught the company that it continues to use Russian fuel. After that, the leadership of Tallink Grupp hastily made statements that they bought all the fuel for themselves in storage at the end of 2021 – before the start of “Russian aggression against independent Ukraine.”
This did not seem enough – and Paavo Nygene published an extensive explanation. He began with repentance. “All of us, most of Estonia, have been contributing to the financing of the Russian military machine for a long time… by importing various products. Mostly oil, gas and various processed products… Russian-made oil and gas products are not yet completely banned in Europe. However, it is a matter of ethics whether to continue to buy or not. Of course not. It is important that we all understand this and act accordingly. The first logical step is to refuse new purchases from Russia, not to buy more, not to additionally finance the Russian military machine,” Nygene said.
Will the companies of Estonia and other Baltic countries, and other EU countries, actually refuse Russian oil, it will become clear this coming winter. The very fact of these political scandals and witch hunts indicates that a significant number of Baltic entrepreneurs are indifferent to the mantras of politicians about “Russian aggression”, and that “the Russian military machine must be deprived of income”. So, most likely, business will find ways to circumvent any political restrictions.