Following the appearance on 29 June of photographs and videos of two gas turbines, apparently produced by Siemens, being delivered to Sevastopol in occupied Crimea, the German technology giant has first refuted media allegations that its turbines entered Crimea, breaching EU sanctions, then acknowledged it, then sued its partners in Russia for moving the turbines to Crimea “against its will” and said it will be investigating the location of two other turbines it sold to its Russian partners. The German government has demanded Siemens clarify how its four turbines ended up in Crimea, a territory to which EU sanctions prohibit shipping energy technology. The incident has been said to be a test of the limit of EU sanctions.
Evidence from open sources indicates that the two remaining turbines were also delivered to Crimea, but through another city, Feodosiya. The carrier for delivering both of the shipments of turbines appears to be the same, according to Kateryna Yaresko, an analyst at the monitoring group for blackseanews.com, writing for the Ukrainian investigative outlet investigator.org.ua. Reuters, citing its own sources, has also published an article on 13 July implying that the two turbines entered Feodosiya. However, our evidence suggests that the turbines appeared there 5 days earlier.
Photos from Feodosiya made on 8 July 2017, published by the Informnapalminvestigative community, show what appears to a shipment identical to the one in Sevastopol: four cylindrical objects, several meters long, and covered with blue and gray tarpaulins.
The ship “Squall” was the only one leaving the Feodosiya port on that day. The past route of this tugboat can be tracked on the website Marinetraffic.com.
When making the detour to the north-east of Kavkaz Port on 6 July, “Squall” picked up a cargo pontoon which, apparently, was carrying the second shipment of Siemens turbines. Yaresko identifies the cargo pontoon as “Damen Riverstar 3,” built in 2013, owned by the Sovfracht company, attributed to St.Petersburg. The company’s site indicates that “Damen Riverstar 3 carries” oversized cargo on the Black Sea.
One of the photographs on the site contains a fragment of the dock allowing to geolocate the pontoon juxtaposing it over the photo of the turbines in Feodosiya:
The tandem “Squall+Damen Riverstar 3” had been noticed in Crimean ports before. On 28 May, it entered Feodosiya, and on 29 May – it delivered 5 transformers to the Kamyshov Bay in Sevastopol, the very one where the tandem delivered the Siemens turbines on 27 June
The company Sovfracht is under US OFAC sanctions. On 30 September 2016, Sovfracht‘s executive director Nadezhda Reshetneva told about the effect of these sanctions at the Investment Forum in Sochi. According to her, Russian subsidiaries of international companies, as well as some Russian companies, the contracts of which Western partners stipulate that they can’t cooperate with companies under sanctions, are refusing to collaborate with Sovfracht. Some of Sovfracht‘s clients run into problems as well, as international traders warn they will not buy goods that are transported by the sanctioned company. Reshetneva also said that the company will have to quickly reorient its business to the domestic market and to Asian markets.
However, Yaresko writes, the company reoriented itself to smuggling supplies to occupied Ukrainian territory in violation of Ukrainian and international law.
If Sovfracht faces such problems with business abroad, it is a wonder that Siemens has chosen to so openly cooperate with Technopromexport, the company which it is now suing for transporting Siemens turbines to occupied Crimea. Technopromexport is under US sanctions, and the director of its mother company Rostec is under EU and US sanctions. It is hard to believe that Siemens didn’t know of the risks it is facing when choosing to cooperate with a sanctioned company.