Siemens Turbines Make It to Russia-Annexed Crimea Despite EU Sanctions – Report

A worker poses on request of press photographers next to a turbine at the Siemens Gas Turbine Plant in Berlin, Germany, 02 March 2017. Photo: Clemens Bilan/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

  • Siemens-made electricity turbines have been delivered to Crimea in an apparent violation of EU sanctions against Russia and Crimea’s authorities over the region’s annexation from Ukraine in 2014.
  • Turbines had been destined for an electricity plant in Taman, Southern Russia.
  • They appear to have been diverted to Crimea by a Russian state firm.
  • It is unclear to what extent German company Siemens was aware of the diversion.
  • Russia needs the turbines for two power plants in Crimea in order to secure its energy self-sufficiency, as Putin promised after the annexation.
  • It is unclear whether German manufacturer Siemens would suffer any consequences over the apparent sanction violation.

Electricity turbines produced by Germany’s Siemens have been delivered to Crimea, Ukraine’s Black Sea Peninsula which was annexed by Russia in 2014, in spite of the bans in the European Union’s sanctions against Moscow, according to a report.

Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula back in 2014, and the ongoing pro-Russian insurgency in Ukraine’s Donbass region since then have resulted in an ongoing standoff with the West.

In the winter of 2013-2014, the Euromaidan Revolution in Kiev ousted Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, and promised to bring Ukraine closer to the West, including through EU and N ATO membership.

In response, led by President Vladimir Putin, in February-March 2014, Russia occupied and then annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in the Black Sea.

Shortly after Russia’s seizure of Crimea, a pro-Russian insurgency possibly instigated and aided by Moscow began in the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine and has been raging ever since.

Since then, the war in Ukraine has claimed some 10,000 lives, and has displaced millions of people.

The Ukrainian’s standoff with the forces of the separatist so called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republic along a 400 km (250-mile) frontline has thus turned into a “cold’ conflict with “hot” flashpoints.

The US, the EU, and other Western nations have imposed sanctions on Russia over both the annexation of the Crimea and the insurgency in Ukraine’s Donbass which the West deems to be instigated and supported by Moscow.

In June, top Russian officials recently the West to “stop obsessing” over the Crimea, and kept denying Moscow’s involvement in the war in Donbass.

Also in June, the US introduced new sanctions against Russia, a “pointless” move, according to Moscow, and the EU renewed one of its three sets of sanctions against Russia over the annexation of Crimea and the ongoing war in Ukraine, and just extended the third set of sanctions. Another set of EU sanctions against Russia was renewed in March.

‘Sanctions-Busting’

Russia has delivered electricity turbines made by Germany’s Siemens to Crimea, a region subject to European Union sanctions barring EU firms from supplying it with energy technology, three sources with knowledge of the delivery told Reuters.

Reuters says it was unable to determine if Siemens knew of or condoned the equipment transfer.

However, the move exposes the German company to potential accusations of indirect sanctions-busting and of not taking sufficient safeguards to ensure its equipment does not in illegally annexed Crimea.

“Siemens has not delivered turbines to Crimea and complies with all export control restrictions,” said Wolfram Trost, a spokesman for Siemens in Munich, when asked to confirm the turbine transfer to Crimea.

Citing client confidentiality, he did not answer written questions asking whether Siemens was aware that the turbines had been shipped to Crimea and whether it would now be activating or servicing them.

Russia needed the turbines for two Crimean power plants the Kremlin wants to get up and running to fulfill a promise, made by Russian President Vladimir Putin, to ensure a stable power supply for the region’s residents after the region’s annexation.

Delivery of the turbines had been delayed for over a year because the firms involved feared violating EU sanctions, people involved in the project have told Reuters.

Russia’s Energy Ministry, which oversees the Crimea power plants project, declined to comment.

It referred questions to Technopromexport, the Russian state-owned firm which is building the plants. Technopromexport declined to comment.

One source close to the project, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, told Reuters that two of the turbines had been delivered from Russia by sea to Crimea.

He said they were destined for use in a power plant in the Crimean city of Sevastopol. He said the turbines were unloaded at Sevastopol port, and that preparatory work was underway at the power plant site to install and commission the turbines.

‘Diverted to Crimea’

The turbines were SGT5-2000E gas turbines, he said, a type manufactured only by Siemens and its subsidiaries.

An official in Crimea’s energy sector who is familiar with the power plants project, and an employee with a company involved in the project, also said the turbines were Siemens turbines, and that they had been delivered to Crimea.

The individual close to the project and the official in the Crimea energy sector told Reuters the turbines delivered to the port in Sevastopol had come from Taman, located in southern Russia, some 10 miles (16 km) from Crimea.

Siemens told reporters in March that a Russian joint venture in which it has a majority stake supplied turbines for use in a power plant that was planned for construction in Taman. Siemens has a 65% share in the joint venture, and Russian company Power Machines has a 35% stake.

The joint venture, Gas Turbine Technologies LLC, made the turbines that were sent to Taman at its factory in the Russian city of St Petersburg.

The sanctions barring the supply of energy technology to Crimea do not apply to the Taman project because it is located on internationally recognized Russian territory.

The turbines for the Taman plant were bought by Technopromexport – the same company building the two Crimea plants – because, it previously said, it would be building the plant in Taman.

Sources close to the Crimean project have previously told Reuters that one of the options under consideration was to use the Taman turbines in Crimea.

Asked about that possibility last year, Siemens said it was supplying the turbines only for use in Taman, and not in Crimea.

It said at the time it had “no reason” to believe the turbines would be diverted to Crimea, and said it respected and would abide by the sanctions regime.

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