Russian Ship Swem detained in Finnish port over suspected sanctions violation


23rd March 2023 – (Stockholm) The Russian ship Swem carrying a cargo of fertilizers has been detained in the Finnish port of Kotka over suspicion of violating EU sanctions on Russia. According to Finland’s Yle television channel, the ship is suspected of carrying fertilizers belonging to a person included in the EU sanctions list.

Pia Sarivaara, the leader of the sanctions team at the Finnish Foreign Ministry, stated that the cargo would be frozen in compliance with EU rules in case of detection. The vessel is currently outside the port and is waiting for permission from the Finnish government to continue its voyage.

This marks the first time a cargo ship has been detained in Finnish ports over suspected sanctions violations. Kotka port CEO Kimmo Naski confirmed that the vessel will be allowed to leave Finnish waters if it’s heading to a third country and its cargo is required for food production.

Unofficial data suggests that the ship is carrying up to 20,000 tons of fertilizers with a market value ranging from 10 to 12 million euros. The EU sanctions on Russia were imposed in response to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and alleged involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Agreements to export food from Ukraine were signed in July 2022 in Istanbul and were extended for another 120 days in November. One of the agreements outlines a procedure for the export of grain from Kiev-controlled ports of Odessa, Chernomorsk, and Yuzhny.

Russia and the UN also signed a memorandum aimed at lifting the restrictions on the export of Russian agricultural products and fertilizers to world markets. However, Russia claims that the memorandum has not been fulfilled.

Last Saturday, there were reports that the grain deal between the parties had allegedly been extended for another 120 days. However, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that Russia had only agreed to extend the grain deal for 60 days.

Following talks in Geneva, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin noted that the 60-day extension would be sufficient for an objective assessment of how the UN implements its assurances to ensure the unblocking of exports of Russian agricultural products and fertilizers to the world market.