Are US military planes refueling with Russian fuel?

The US fills tanks for fighter planes and ships with fuel that is partly processed in a refinery in Greece, where oil also arrives from Russia

by Sededin Dedovic
Are US military planes refueling with Russian fuel?
© Ezra Acayan / Getty Images

The US military's Central Command plays a significant role in fueling fighter planes and ships, relying on a partially processed fuel supply from the Hellas Motor Oil refinery in Greece. This fuel, originating from the Turkish port of Dortiol, undergoes processing at the Greek refinery, allegedly receiving crude oil inputs from various sources, including Russia, as per recent investigations by the "Washington Post." Despite potential connections, individuals implicated in the report either deny these allegations or remain unresponsive to inquiries.

In the wake of the European Union's imminent introduction of its 12th package of sanctions against Russia, with a heightened focus on enforcing global control over Siberian barrel prices and maritime transportation, concerns about Russian oil entering European territories persist.

The challenge lies in monitoring and regulating these movements, particularly given reports that Russian oil is being sold well above the established $60 per barrel price in both Pacific and Baltic loadings, as reported by the "Financial Times." In response, new initiatives and proposals are emerging in Washington and EU headquarters.

The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has sent inquiries to ship owners in various countries, including Greece, seeking information on about a hundred vessels suspected of transporting Russian oil. The effectiveness of such measures remains uncertain, pending responses from the implicated shipowners.

Simultaneously, Brussels is devising strategies to monitor Russian tanker traffic in the Baltic, considering potential intervention in the Denmark Strait. With 60% of Russian maritime oil exports passing through this route, there are discussions about Denmark inspecting Russian oil tankers for purchase prices and adequate insurance, citing concerns about environmental risks associated with potential oil spills.

Brussels is exploring options beyond direct sanctions to disrupt Russia's oil exports, including engaging with shipping companies selling old vessels to Russians and collaborating with countries hosting these vessels under their flags.

Despite the complexities and potential consequences of such measures, Brussels appears committed to tightening the grip on Russian oil trade, navigating through diplomatic, regulatory, and environmental considerations. The evolving situation underscores the intricate challenges faced by policymakers in enforcing sanctions while balancing economic, political, and environmental concerns.