An international tribunal formed under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea has ruled that Russia will have to pay the Netherlands €5.4 million in damages over the 2013 seizing of Greenpeace’s vessel «Arctic Sunrise» and its crew following the protest against GazpromNeft’s Prirazlomnoye drilling in the eastern Barents Sea.
«Russia breached its obligations under the Convention by boarding, investigating, inspecting arresting, detaining, and seizing the Arctic Sunrise, a vessel flying the Dutch flag, without the prior consent of the Netherlands, and by arresting, detaining and initiating judicial proceedings against the thirty persons on board that vessel,» the court ruling reads.
Russian Coast Guard soldiers boarded and took over the vessel in September 2013 and sailed it to Murmansk where it was held in port for nine months. The 28 Greenpeace activists and two freelance journalists on board spent two months in prison, first in Murmansk and later in St. Petersburg before being released by an amnesty.
When given back to Greenpeace in the spring 2014, «Arctic Sunrise» had suffered considerable damage. So had the inflatable boards and other equipment on board.
Jasper Teulings, General Gounsel of Greenpeace International welcomes the court ruling. «The road to justice can be long but today’s award emphatically upholds international law and the right to peaceful protest against oil drilling in the Arctic – and at sea worldwide.»
Greenpeace says in a statement that it is not clear whether Russia will comply with the ruling to pay for the damages. «Throughout the case, the Russian government refused to participate at any stage of the legal proceedings or to pay its share of the legal costs set by the Tribunal.»
This week,«Arctic Sunrise» made port call to Tromsø in northern Norway before sailing into the Barents Sea on Wednesday.
No plans to enter Russian waters
Truls Gulowsen, Head of Greenpeace Norway, says to the Barents Observer that Statoil’s drilling is the most controversial.
«Greenpeace is taking the Arctic Sunrise to the Barents Sea since Statoil’s Arctic program is currently the most controversial drilling project on the planet. They go further north, closer to the ice edge and vulnerable seabird habitats and deeper into undeveloped areas than any other project, totally ignoring the recommendations from Norway’s own environmental agency as well as the climate lawsuit launched by Greenpeace and Nature and Youth,» Gulowsen says.
Do you have any plans to sail into Russian waters?
«Currently, we have no plans to enter the Russian waters, as it is on the Norwegian side the most controversial drilling is planned to take place, and Norway that is the most aggressive Arctic oil player in practical terms,» Truls Gulowsen says.
This is the first campaign voyage for «Arctic Sunrise» after the ship was repaired.