Malaysia to deny entry of Russia-flagged tanker sanctioned by US

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KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) – A Russian-flagged oil tanker will not be allowed to call at Kuala Linggi port in Malaysia, its government said on Tuesday (March 1), amid pressure on countries to enforce international sanctions on Moscow-linked businesses over the invasion of Ukraine.

The Linda, which was identified in a US Treasury document detailing sanctions against Russian entities, was heading towards the Malaysian port and was scheduled to arrive at the weekend, Reuters reported on Monday, citing shipping data.

Malaysia’s transport ministry said the port’s operator had decided to decline the ship’s request to drop anchor there “in order not to violate any sanctions”.

“The ministry will continue to review the situation for further action as may be required according to current government policies,” it said in a statement, without spelling out the government’s position on the US sanctions.

Malaysia had previously expressed concern about the conflict in Ukraine but stopped short of condemning Russia. It has not commented on the international sanctions imposed on Russia over the invasion.

The ministry’s statement, which attributed the decision to block the ship to port authorities rather than the government, suggested “an attempt to split the difference” in placating both Russia and the United States, said Euan Graham, senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“It’s a pragmatic move to try and manoeuvre between two large countries… as I suspect the US is applying significant pressure behind the scenes on Malaysia to observe sanctions,” he told Reuters.

According to the United States, Linda is owned by PSB Leasing, a unit of Russian lender Promsvyazbank, which has also been hit by international sanctions. Provsyazbank, however, has denied that its subsidiary owned the vessel.

A US advocacy group has said Linda was also suspected to be transporting Iranian oil, a target of other US sanctions.

Follow The Straits Times’ live coverage on the Ukraine crisis here.

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