As the Sovcomflot owned oil tanker NS Champion continues on its journey to Flotta Orkney, ordinary folk feel helpless in what they can do. In not a good way Orkney is making the national news.
Campaigning group Shetland Staands has suggested sending postcards to the Russian Ambassador to Scotland and writing on them support for the people of Ukraine and what you feel about Russia’s imperialist invasion of an independent nation.
The address is:
- Russian Embassy in Scotland
- 58 Melville Street
- EH3 7HF
On Saturday 26th of February Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs in the Scottish Government, Angus Robertson wrote to the Russian Ambassador condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “in the strongest possible terms”. The text of the letter can be found at the end of this article.
Across the political spectrum statements have been issued condemning the enabling of NS Champion in Orkney.
Orkney Constituency MSP Liam McArthur, LibDem said:
“The invasion of Ukraine ordered by Vladmir Putin has sickened people across Orkney and around the world. It is a blatant breach of international law and a threat to our liberal, democratic order.
“It is right that the UK has taken steps to freeze assets and cut off economic ties with Russia, but we need to do more. In keeping with the rationale for sanctions there can be no question of these vessels, operated by companies who are owned by the Russian state, accessing ports in this country.
“While this is something that will need to be resolved at a UK level, I have urged the First Minister and Transport Secretary to lend the Scottish Government support in efforts to stop these vessels.
“With the Orkney community showing its solidarity with the Ukrainian people at a vigil outside St Magnus Cathedral, there can be no question of the NS Champion being allowed to enter Scapa Flow next week.”
Orkney SNP convener Robert Leslie said that the strength of feeling against the Russian oil tanker NS Champion being allowed into Scapa Flow was palpable during Saturday afternoon’s vigil on the Kirk Green in solidarity with Ukraine.
Mr Leslie said: “With Scapa Flow having played a key role as a naval base for two World Wars, it would be unthinkable for a Russian tanker to be allowed to take on cargo in our great harbour at this time.
“It is very welcome that Orkney Islands Council is doing everything in its powers to avert the situation where the Sovcomflot tanker NS Champion could take on board crude oil from Flotta on Tuesday.
“I know that the Scottish Government is already pressing the UK Government for action to prevent the vessel being able to access Orkney waters. Hopefully that will lead to the right decision being reached.”
OIC Councillor Steve Sankey, Scottish Greens said:
“We have a proud maritime history in Orkney, and we should play our part and issue an immediate ban on all Russian vessels entering our Harbours. This would be a peaceful but very effective act.
“This is a Russian-owned vessel going about its routine business, transporting oil for commercial purposes for its owners, and I can’t condone OIC services of any type assisting this vessel. If sanctions against Russia are to work, they must be immediate and effective. Whilst we may by law have to allow access, there’s no law that says our pilot boats and tugs should be used, and I’m deeply unhappy about our harbour assets helping a Russian ship under current circumstances.
“The war in Ukraine is an appalling act of aggression by an out-of-control dictator, Putin, attacking a democratically-elected free state. Ordinary civilians are losing their lives because of his needless and senseless act. Like many people in Orkney I felt depressed and powerless on hearing the news. Well, to stop this tanker entering Scapa Flow is something we can do here in Orkney to show some solidarity with our Eastern cousins. If the UK government can’t make decisions about Russian vessels quickly, then we can – Orcadians would be appalled to know that their Council is assisting a Russian ship.”
Politicians seem unable to stop this tanker visiting Flotta. The Tory UK Government could but whilst Orkney waits on some action from Boris Johnson the tanker relies on the cooperation of workers in the islands to enable it to trade.
Here is the text of the letter Angus Robertson sent to the Russian ambassador.
Dear Ambassador Kelin,
The Scottish Government condemns Russia’s unprovoked invasion of a peaceful, democratic neighbour in the strongest possible terms. We call for an immediate cessation of Russia’s aggression and demand that all Russian troops withdraw from Ukraine immediately.
This illegal act of aggression has no conceivable justification. I reject wholeheartedly the premise of the invasion as stated by President Putin. I deplore the loss of life, including civilian lives, which is the direct responsibility of the Russian regime.
Scotland offers its unqualified support for Ukrainian sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. Our capital city Edinburgh is twinned with Kyiv, and our country is home to several thousand Ukrainians who are valued and welcome members of our communities.
Scotland is also home to many Russians, whom we value equally. They are our friends, family, co-workers and neighbours. Our quarrel is not with the people of Russia, nor the Russian community who live and work in Scotland, but with President Putin’s regime and its deplorable actions.
This week’s atrocities are not isolated. They form part of a pattern of aggression and belligerence, which includes the annexation of Crimea in 2014, repeated cyber attacks and interference in other countries’ democratic processes and, of course, the use of nerve agents on British soil in 2018.
The First Minister and I have welcomed the sanctions which the UK government announced on Tuesday and the further round introduced on Thursday.
Mr Ambassador, history will judge this week’s events as a permanent stain on this Russian government’s reputation. The international community stands united against such aggression, and Scotland stands with the international community.
Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs
I appreciate Councillor Sankey’s response BUT why can’t he and his fellow councillors call for an emergency debate in the Council about the NS Champion’s use of Scapa Flow?