A message from Ukraine: boycott Russia’s blood oil now

Vladimir Putin sells 5m barrels of crude oil per day, a large share of which goes to Europe. Today, as EU leaders gather to discuss the crisis, we call on people everywhere to boycott Russian oil now.

We are receiving great support from many governments and people. They are taking in our refugees, they are sending us food and medicine, and they voted against Putin’s war at the United Nations. On Tuesday, the Biden administration agreed to ban all US imports of Russian oil and gas. But political leaders in Germany, Italy, the UK, and some other countries are afraid to impose an immediate embargo. They are afraid that oil prices will go up, and that their voters won’t understand why, or will be too angry to care.

You are already on the streets and across social media expressing support for Ukraine. We appreciate all the videos sending the clear message that you are appalled by the horror Putin has brought. But your governments still fear that if they embargo Russian oil, you will hold it against them.

If there is a boycott of Russian oil, a plan can be put in place to address short-term supply issues. In the longer term, it is obviously now a national security imperative for all countries to speedily move away from their reliance on fossil fuels. What we are requesting will only accelerate the transition needed to address the climate crisis. Yet despite indiscriminate murder happening in Ukrainian streets and pledges of action from the most powerful world leaders at Cop26 in November, European governments still hesitate.

If we cannot end the age of fossil fuels in the face of civilian slaughter and the destruction of our planet, what will it take?

Let’s make it easy for them. We are organising a coalition to track the tankers that transport Russian oil and tell you where they are. The Russians will try to hide this information, but we will tell you where the ships are.

Last week, Shell bought a shipment of Russian oil, reportedly because it was available at a discount of just under $30 per barrel. The public backlash was immediate, and on 8 March, Shell pledged to no longer buy Russian oil. We need all oil companies to do the same.

These companies may not listen to the cries of Ukrainian children, but they will listen to you, their customers. Most oil is used for transportation, including for personal cars, lorries and planes. Please do not buy petrol or diesel from any company that is refining Russian oil. Do not fly on an airline that uses jet fuel made from Russian oil.

Demand of your leaders that no Russian oil is offloaded in your ports. Do not insure their cargo, do not lease ships to them and do not transport any oil or refined products inside your countries. Please do not conduct any personal or corporate financial transaction with Russian oil companies, their managers, or owners. This is all blood oil and blood money.

Any executive who makes the decision to buy blood oil or any products derived from blood oil will damage their brand and destroy shareholder value – anyone that incompetent should be fired immediately. We will make this point to boards of directors and shareholders everywhere.

We will also help bring lawsuits, on behalf of innocent Ukrainians who have suffered irreparable harm, against any individuals or companies that profit from blood oil. To the extent permissible by law in all relevant jurisdictions, on behalf of the dead, injured, displaced and traumatised, we will pursue immediate injunctions and maximum damages from all parties who now help Russia.

Putin thinks he is strong because Russia is the second-largest oil exporter in the world. But he is weak because he has put himself in your hands and you are angry because he is terrorising Ukrainian civilians and threatening the world.

We are standing up to Putin and we will win. Our soldiers are well-trained and millions of our citizens are taking up arms. There is no way for Putin to take over and control a country with more than 40 million angry people, all shouting, “Go home!”

But many Ukrainians, including thousands and thousands of children, are suffering every hour of every day. Unarmed civilians are being bombarded constantly. They hide underground. They do not have enough food or water. Many lack the medicines they need. More than 50 children have died in tragic circumstances. Thousands of lives hang in the balance.

The movement against blood diamonds changed the world, but it took years. Greed is very powerful. But we, the people, are more powerful and when we focus our anger, we can achieve anything and stop anyone.

We must end this war. You can help us. Tell your governments: not in my name. Boycott Russian oil now.


Oleg Ustenko

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