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Ukraine war latest: Any Russian demands would require approval from referendum, says Zelensky

Ukraine has demanded that western oil majors, including BP and Shell, cease trading Russian oil in the latest push to mount pressure on energy companies to cut off a key source of financing to the Kremlin.

Oleg Ustenko, chief economic adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, wrote letters to the west’s largest energy companies requesting them to cut off all business dealings with Russia including the trade of its oil.

“In this existential moment for our nation, we’re asking you to terminate all business dealings with the Russian fossil fuel industry to cut off the flow of cash which is financing the mass murder of innocent people,” Ustenko wrote in letters to BP, Shell, TotalEnergies, Chevron and ExxonMobil.

BP, Shell and Exxon have announced plans to dump stakes in Russian investments but along with commodity traders, they have largely continued to lift barrels of the country’s oil that they are obliged to take under long-term contracts.

A BP petrol station in Moscow
A BP petrol station in Moscow © Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Shell has said it will halt all purchases of Russian oil on the spot market and phase out contractual volumes eventually.

The letters also said Ukraine would establish a group to track tankers picking up Russian oil in partnership with activists, academics, civil society groups and data providers.

The plea came as Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, jumped 6.6 per cent on Monday to $115 a barrel, after Saudi Arabian officials said that they would shirk responsibility for any future shortages of energy globally.

EU officials indicated on Monday that they would discuss sanctions on Russian energy exports, despite opposition from Germany and the Netherlands, which believe the bloc is too dependent on the country’s oil to break clean.

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