The US and European Union are increasingly shifting the emphasis of their sanctions programme against Russia to enforcement, says NorthStandard head of external affairs Mike Salthouse.
His comments come as the US accused two more Sovcomflot vessels — the 110,043-dwt NS Champion (built 2005) and 118,175-dwt Viktor Bakaev (built 2013) — of hauling crude oil above the $70-per-tonne price cap.
Eight vessels in total have now been named by the US for allegedly breaching the G7 price cap sanctions.
Speaking to Gallagher P&I practice leader Alex Vullo in a video interview, Salthouse said the US Office of Foreign Assets Control and the European Union’s financial authority DG FISMA are looking to apply the sanctions more strictly.
“Since September, we have seen a change of tone,” Salthouse said. “Ofac has written to a number of shipowners directly — not withstanding that they are not within their territorial jurisdiction.
“And certainly, in terms of the engagements we have seen from governments, there seems to have been a greater emphasis on enforcement than there has been at any time previously.”
Salthouse formerly represented the International Group of P&I Clubs in talks with governments over the development of sanctions against Russia.
Salthouse said at the time that the designation of vessels was not being considered.
“Certainly, when we [the International Group] were engaging with the US and DG FISMA when the price cap was being designed, we were very worried about secondary sanctions and we asked the question ‘Are you intending to use secondary sanctions?’” he said.
He added that the US response at that point was “we do not feel the need to presently — but nothing is off the table”.
“It does now seem they see the need to use secondary sanctions,” he said.
The US, along with the EU and UK, have written to flag states Liberia, the Marshall Islands and Panama to request more checks to ensure their ships are not hauling price-capped oil, according to a Reuters report.
Salthouse said the EU could now be ready to ramp up its enforcement programme.
“We also know that DG FISMA is looking at a 12th sanctions package and we would expect to see more enforcement measures coming through,” Salthouse said.