Protestors from Belgium-registered Ukraine advocacy group Promote Ukraine, alongside environmental charity Rise for Climate, staged a sanctioned protest against Russian shipping and oil on 16 April in the Port of Antwerp.
The activists called for a complete oil embargo on Russia and an end to the use of European ports by Russian ships.
The NGO has been protesting against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine since the start of the war. It has advocated for an end to the Belgian diamond trade, closed skies over Ukraine, a complete gas and oil embargo of Russia, and a boycott of Russian fuel company Lukoil.
The protestors, composed of volunteers and members of Belgium’s Ukrainian diaspora, held flags and banners in front of ships moored at the harbour.
According to the protest organisers, European sanctions on shipping should also extend to fuel tankers.
“Today, most Russian ships can’t enter Belgian ports, but there are exceptions for agricultural ships and oil tankers,” the organisers wrote on Facebook. “We don’t have time for half measures; no exceptions should be made; they are just loopholes for Russia to keep funding the war.”
Since the start of the war, 55 oil and gas tankers from Russian ports have docked in Antwerp and Zeebrugge, with a total capacity of 3.5 million metres cubed of oil and gas.
That’s equivalent to around 1,400 Olympic-sized swimming pools of oil and gas. Activists from the environmental action group have previously attempted to block and delay Russian fuel shipments to the Port of Antwerp.
Over one week on April, 21 Russian oil tankers entered European waters. Almost half of these ships docked at Belgian ports, just 30 miles from European Union institutions where sanctions against Russia have been approved.
The Port of Antwerp is one of Europe’s largest ports and one of Belgium’s main drivers of economic growth. More than 230 million tonnes of maritime freight pass through more than 11,000 hectares of port infrastructure each year.