Russia has accused the United States of breaking their own sanctions and smuggling oil out of Syria.
Speaking yesterday in Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova criticised the American occupation of Syrian oilfields and described the action as criminal activity. Beyond the most recent moves by Washington, Zakharova also accused the Trump regime of smuggling, stating that the activity had already been going on for months.
“It’s impossible for a modern international community [not] to raise questions when a civilised state endlessly declares its adherence to certain democratic values, international legal principles in international relations, pumps oil from oil fields in northeast Syria, I remind you: it is a sovereign state – covering up their criminal activities with some pretexts for fighting ISIS. I want to remind you also: ISIS, according to the Allies[International military intervention against ISIL], was finally destroyed in March of this year. Not really, of course, everything “grows together” in the American position, bypassing their sanctions, Americans have been smuggling oil for more than 30 million dollars a month from Syria.”Maria Zakharova
The accusation comes hot on the heels of the Russian Ministry of Defense releasing satellite images that show American forces extracting oil and sending it for processing outside of Syria.
The above images show the Daman oil gathering station where “90 automotive vehicles, including 23 fuel trucks” were spotted. In addition, we can see 25 vehicles in the Al-Hasakah province, including 22 fuel trucks. Furthermore, 32 more fuel trucks were seen in Deir ez-Zor on September 8 and 34 fuel trucks were recorded in the Mayadin onshore area on the same day as can be seen in the images below.
Russia has claimed that the US-controlled company Sadcab is responsible for the operation to extract the oil and the income of the smuggling has gone straight into the personal accounts of U.S. private military companies and special forces.
Syrian oil is currently valued at $38 and barrel, making the illegal operation worth $30m a month.
“Under the protection of American military servicemen and employees of American PMCs, fuel trucks from the oil fields of Eastern Syria are smuggling to other states. In the event of any attack on such a caravan, special operations forces and US military aircraft are immediately called in to protect it. For such a continuous financial flow, free from control and taxes of the American government, the leadership of the Pentagon and Langley will be ready to guard and defend oil fields in Syria from the mythical ‘hidden IS cells’ endlessly. Neither in international law, nor in American legislation itself – there is not and cannot be a single legal task for the American troops to protect and defend the hydrocarbon deposits of Syria from Syria itself and its own people”Igor Konashenkov, Russian Defense Ministry
The Americans and Donald Trump in particular have been particularly open about occupying and stealing Syrian oil, despite the international legal consequences of such claims.
Just yesterday Donald Trump stated unequivocally that U.S. troops will be remaining in Syria “just because we’re keeping the oil,” while Defense Secretary Mark Esper put it less explicitly this past Monday when he told the press that the current U.S. objective in eastern Syria is “to secure the oil fields.”
Critics and international observers have pointed out that plundering Syrian oil would be a war crime under international law.
Under The Hague Convention and international law, occupying forces are permitted to use public assets that it manages, including the yield, but only so far as to fulfil its obligations under the law of occupation. The occupying power is not allowed to destroy assets, transfer their ownership to others or deplete them. Any effort to exploit a finite resource such as the oil reserves in Syria would be in contradiction to these laws. An expression of this principle is found in Section 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.
This law against international plunder is one of the key aspects of international humanitarian law and the international community and United Nations must now be seen to act. If the United States is allowed to engage in international banditry then not only will it be a supreme double standard, it will render both international law and bodies such as the United Nations impotent.