Russian frigate bypasses sanctions and heads for Vigo

Russian frigate bypasses sanctions and heads for Vigo

The Russian frigate « Shtandart » during her last visit to Galicia in the spring. Photo: ALBA-VILLAR – El Faro de Vigo

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Ukrainian refugees and activists call on her [the frigate] to leave European waters despite the captain’s stance against war.

Translation of the article dated July 10, 2022, by Javier H. Rodriguez, on « El Faro de Vigo » : « Una fragata rusa capea las sanciones y se dirige a Vigo » – Twitter @JavierHRguez

The frigate Shtandart, 34.5 meters long and 6.9 meters wide, has been sailing since June in the waters of the Bay of Biscay. Her destination? The port of Vigo. This docking, scheduled for the twenty-second of this month [July 2022], is not anecdotal. In fact, it is rather an anomaly: this ship, flying the Russian flag, managed to circumvent the fifth package of sanctions of the European Union against the post-Soviet space concerning the war in Ukraine. In the fifth sanctions package, the twenty-seven prohibit the entry of Russian ships into European ports with a few exceptions. The decision, signed in April [2022], seems clear and « prohibits access to [EU] ports for vessels registered under the flag of Russia », as it is the case for Shtandart. The legislative text also specifies that this sanction will apply “to all vessels falling within the scope of the international Conventions; any yacht, fifteen meters in length or more, which does not carry cargo or does not carry more than twelve passengers, or pleasure craft or jet skis”. With the exception, of course, of all vessels that require assistance in seeking a place of refuge, an emergency stopover for maritime safety reasons, or to save lives at sea.

Nevertheless, official sources from the Ministry of Transport and Mobility explain that « they considered that she [Shtandart] responded to the consideration of a historic ship and that she would not be affected by the ban adopted by the EU. « , but they indicate that they have not taken any specific decision, for the moment, concerning the docking of the Shtandart in Vigo.

Mobilizations in France

This ship, a reconstruction of the 18th century frigate of the Russian Tsar Peter I the Great, is also sailing in a singular controversy born in one of the last ports where it was seen moored: La Rochelle, in France. From there, Ukrainian journalists, activists and refugees have cried foul for what they consider to be an « outrage » in the context of the Russian invasion. Indeed, in recent months, there have been various mobilizations and letters to the ministers responsible for transport, asking them to « put an end to this exception ».

Ukrainian flash mob in front of the Shtandart, in La Rochelle, June 12, 2022 - Photo: Oleksandr Goron
Ukrainian flash mob in front of Shtandart, in La Rochelle, June 12, 2022 – Photo: Oleksandr Goron

What does the captain say?

The director of the Vigo Traslatio Foundation, Celso Fernández, is in direct contact with Vladimir Martus, captain of the Shtandart, since he is the interlocutor who invites him within the framework of the « Ruta Iacobus Maris ». This event commemorates the supposed journey of the body of the Apostle St James from the port of Jaffa (former province of the Roman Empire located in Palestine) to Santiago de Compostela, crossing the « Mare Nostrum » (Mediterranean Sea ) from east to west and heading north to Galicia. Currently, it is the longest maritime pilgrimage in the world on the « Way of Saint James ».

For this reason, Fernández knows firsthand the vision of the captain [Vladimir Martus]. According to his words, in 2009 he was threatened by the Kremlin for not surrendering his ship to state expropriation. Since then, he says, he can no longer set foot on Russian land and sails mainly in European Union waters. These facts are categorically denied by Bernard Grua, a French journalist and activist who closely follows the itinerary of the ship on its European journey. Grua points to the official communications of the Shtandart Foundation itself, where in April 2020 they would publicly affirm the possibility of returning to St. Petersburg: « It should be noted that the Shtandart no longer has a program of a training ship . She moves with commercial activities, including the boarding of paying passengers. And what is even more worrying, she has deactivated its AIS identification system since June 6, 2022, thus masking her position, route, speed and destination”, this last information has indeed been verified by FARO.

« The captain says he refuses to give up his Russian flag because he does not want to give up his country despite the war and the dissent he maintains against the government of Vladimir Putin », explains the director of the Traslatio Foundation in direct contact with the captain. In fact, according to Fernández, the captain’s own brother would fight on the Ukrainian front of the war. « It’s his personal position. But there is a war in Ukraine under the Russian flag. European countries have agreed to ban the entry of Russian ships into their ports since April and they are not complying with,” concludes Bernard Grua.

Note: the links do not appear in the original article. They are here for documentation purposes.

The artticle in Spanish :

Una fragata rusa capea las sanciones y se dirige a Vigo

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Other articles in English and Ukrainian about Shtandart’s case.


Publié par Bernard Grua

Graduated from Paris "Institut d'Etudes Politiques", financial auditor, photographer, founder and spokesperson of the worldwide movement which opposed to the delivery of Mitral invasion vessels to Putin's Russia, contributor to French and foreign media for culture, heritage and geopolitics.

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