MOSCOW, June 13. /TASS/. The United States has again demonstrated its political blindness by accusing the Russian shipping company Sovfracht of jet fuel deliveries to Syria, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement circulated on Wednesday.
"Washington has again demonstrated its political blindness by accusing the staff of Sovfracht public joint stock company of shipping aviation fuel to Syria," the ministry said.
"Back in 2016-2017, the United States blocked in its banks this company’s money transfers worth $5.5 million and now has made this new infamous step in response to our demands to return these funds," the statement says.
"The aviation fuel whose deliveries were ensured by Sovfracht was intended for units of Russia’s Aerospace Force, which are helping to fight terrorist groupings on Syrian soil," the Foreign Ministry noted.
"The US references to its own sanctions against the legitimate authorities of Syria who are bearing the main brunt of this struggle in the interests of security on the entire planet are not simply a new outrageous attempt to spread American national laws far outside the US borders but also actual support of terrorists," the statement says.
However, such statements made by Washington can hardly come as a surprise, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
"Back under the [previous] administration of Barack Obama, the US had long been reluctant to recognize the ISIL [the former name of the Islamic State terrorist organization outlawed in Russia] as a threat and sheltered even militants of Jabhat al-Nusra from retaliation in Syria, even though this group is a branch of Al Qaeda and was recognized by the UN as a terrorist organization [both groupings are outlawed in Russia]," the Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out.
"In their desire to change power in Damascus, Washington officials were ready to deal with anyone whatsoever, including outright jihadists," the statement says.
"The new anti-Russian statement is a new confirmation that the US, which by its support of mujahideen in Afghanistan fostered Al Qaeda in its time, does not want in any way to learn the lessons of history and again, as we have already noted, is looking for an enemy in areas other than where it is actually present," the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed.
"Official Washington’s illegibility in the means and the persistent desire to harm Russia instead of uniting efforts in countering terrorism may cost much for the American people, which has suffered more than once from this evil," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The US Department of Justice on Tuesday indicted five employees of Russia’s Sovfracht shipping company for allegedly supplying jet fuel to Syria in violation of US sanctions imposed on that Arab country.
The US Department of Justice alleged that five Russian nationals - Ivan Okorokov, Ilya Loginov, Karen Stepanyan, Alexey Konkov and Liudmila Shmelkova - who are employees of Sovfracht "conspired to violate US economic sanctions against Syria" and made "US dollar wires to Syria and to sanctioned entities in Syria without receiving a license from the US Treasury Department."
According to US Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, three Syrians are also indicted along with the Russian nationals in this case.
As the US Department of Justice alleges, the Sovfracht employees used "front companies and falsified information in shipping records" to supply jet fuel to Syria aboard tankers owned by the Russia-based Transpetrochart Company.
The document also claims that these individuals engaged in U.S. dollar transactions, which passed through the United States’ financial system. This practice continued even after the US Department of Treasury blacklisted Sovfracht in September 2016 for "Crimean sanctions violations" and prohibited the company from transacting in U.S. dollars without first receiving a license from the US Treasury Department, regardless of whether or not the transaction was for the supply of goods to Syria.
For example, on May 11, 2017, the US Department of Treasury blocked two wires from Sovfracht that passed through the United States "totaling $2,957,983 for the delivery of jet fuel to Syria."
The US Department of Justice admits, however, that these charges still have to be proven in a court of law. At the same time, the statement says that the defendants may face a penalty of up to 25 years in prison and fines.
Sovfracht provides comprehensive transport and logistics services, specializing in rail carriages of oil cargoes, using its own and leased rolling stock. The company also engages in sea and river carriages of cargoes, freight forwarding, broker and ship agency services and cargo insurance.