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19 Apr, 2023 21:01

Ukraine demands oil giant’s ‘Russian blood money’ – Politico

Kiev wants more than a billion dollars from the sale of Shell’s assets in Russia
Ukraine demands oil giant’s ‘Russian blood money’ – Politico

An adviser to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has asked oil giant Shell to donate the proceeds from the sale of its Russian assets to Ukraine, Politico reported on Tuesday. 

In a letter to Shell CEO Wael Sawan dated Monday, Oleg Ustenko, an economic adviser to Zelensky, reportedly called on the firm to donate the proceeds from a supposedly upcoming sale of its stake in a Siberian oil and gas project to Kiev’s coffers.

“If completed, this sale would represent the transfer of more than $1 billion in Russian cash into Shell’s accounts. That would be blood money, pure and simple,” Ustenko wrote, according to Politico. “We call on Shell to put any Russian sale or dividend proceeds to work for the victims of the war – the same war that those assets have fuelled and funded.”

Ustenko added that there is an “overwhelming” moral case for handing the cash over to his government. 

Shell pulled out of the Russian market after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine last February, announcing that it would write off up to $5 billion of its assets in the country. 

According to Russian media reports last week, Shell’s stake in the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas development project will be bought out by Russian energy company Novatek for around $1.1 billion, although it is unclear whether the proceeds from this buyout will end up in the British oil firm’s hands.

A Shell spokesperson told Politico that it is not involved in any negotiations inside Russia, and has no idea where the money from the sale will end up. The company did not say whether it would honor Ustenko’s request if possible.

Shell is not the only energy company being shaken down for cash by Kiev. Ustenko accused BP of taking “blood money” before it sold its share in Russian energy giant Rosneft last year, in addition to demanding almost half a trillion dollars from the Russian central bank’s frozen assets and asking Ukraine’s Western backers to double their financial aid to his country.

With the conflict keeping fossil fuel prices high, Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko called on other firms to share some of their “enormous windfall profits” with his government “to help us restore, to rebuild the energy sector,” Politico reported last month.