The Oil War – by Diane Francis (Substack – January 29, 2024)

“Shadow fleets” of tankers smuggle oil out of Russia and Iran and provide the cash flow to finance their wars and terrorist attacks. These ships are also environmental time bombs. Several have sunk with their toxic cargos because they were in disrepair, operated by scoundrels, or unable to call for help because they were hiding from authorities.

Despite dangers, illicit oil shipments and sanctions-busting activities have exploded. In 2023, China and India imported $600-billion in fossil fuels from Russia, essentially bankrolling Putin’s war in Ukraine and billions from Iran despite draconian sanctions. Estimates are that one in five ships on the high seas are now involved in illicit oil or weapons trade.

And these operators also work with accomplices in countries that are so-called allies, such as India, Greece, Spain, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Cargos are carried by ships without identities, owned by shell companies, and hired by shadowy traders who defy detection and interdiction.

Choking this flow should be a top priority because it fuels warmongering, but instead a global industry has mushroomed, enriching many along the way. The New York Times commented that Russia has “turned a Western boycott into a bonanza”.

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