Danish company charged with violating EU sanctions on Syria

Denmark's financial crimes unit on Wednesday announced charges against a Danish company suspected of violating EU sanctions on Syria by delivering large quantities of fuel to Russian warplanes there.

Danish company charged with violating EU sanctions on Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad via a video conference earlier this week. Photo: Sputnik/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The transactions, carried out between 2015 and 2017, amounted to 647 million kroner (87 million euros), according to the Danish State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime (SØIK).

“On 33 occasions, a Danish company sold a total of about 172,000 tonnes of kerosene to Russian companies, as a result of which the kerosene was delivered to Syria in violation of EU sanctions against Syria,” it said in a statement.

It did not name the company, but Danish media reported it was shipping company Dan-Bunkering which allegedly did business with the Russian firm Maritime, responsible for supplying fuel to Russian military aviation in war-torn Syria.

SØIK said that through intermediaries, the fuel was delivered to the Mediterranean Sea and then to an unknown recipient in Syria's Banias port.

A holding company and the director of one of the companies involved are also being prosecuted for eight of the 33 transactions, SØIK said.

EU sanctions have been in force against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime since December 2011 and are subject to annual review.

They include an oil embargo and a freeze on Syrian central bank assets within the European Union.

The Syrian conflict erupted in early 2011 when Assad's forces staged a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests, sparking violence that has since claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

Moscow's military intervention in 2015 helped turn the tide of the war, with Russian air power allowing Syrian government forces to win back large parts of the country from rebels and jihadists.

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Denmark decries airspace violations by Russian planes

Denmark's government on Friday decried two Russian aircraft violating Danish airspace and summoned   Moscow's ambassador over the incident.

Denmark decries airspace violations by Russian planes
Russian MiG fighter jets. NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA / AFP

The defence ministry in one NATO’s founding members said fighter jets had been scrambled to counter the incursion on Friday,  Ritzau news agency reported.

“Completely unacceptable that Russian planes violate Danish airspace, even twice in one day,” Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said in a post to Twitter.

Kofod added that the repeat violation made it look like a “deliberate action”.

“We are still examining the details, but I have already taken the initiative to summon the Russian ambassador for a talk at the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs,” the foreign minister said.

The violations had occurred over the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, south of Sweden.

“It is very rare that we see this type of violation of Danish airspace, so two in the same day must be deemed to be serious,” Defence Minister Trine Bramsen told Ritzau.

According to the agency, Russia has repeatedly flown over Danish airspace and in August 2020, a Russian B52 bomber also flew over Bornholm.