Top aide to Ukrainian President Zelensky accuses BP of war speculation with stake in Russian oil company

An important [hotlink ignore=true]power[/hotlink] the company that has pledged to sell its stake in Russia has yet to do so, and a senior Ukrainian official has just accused it of pocketing millions from the war.

British Petroleum is one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, so when it announced in February it would sell its 19.75% stake in Russian energy company Rosneft in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine , kept pace.

But nine months later, [hotlink]BP extension[/hotlink] it has yet to offload its stake and one of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s closest advisers is calling on the company to cut ties immediately.

Oleg Ustenko, Zelensky’s chief economic adviser, wrote a letter, seen by the BBC and the Keeper– to BP CEO Bernard Looney who urged the company to deliver on its commitment from the early days of the war, while accusing BP of being complicit in violations of international law and Russia’s transgressions in Ukraine by maintaining its stake in Rosneft.

“After nine months of Russian aggression, war crimes and bombing of civilian infrastructure, all financed and fueled by Russian oil, gas and coal, BP remains a shareholder in Rosneft,” Ustenko wrote.

A BP spokesman said Fortune that the difficulties in selling BP’s stake in Rosneft stemmed from complications related to Western sanctions on Russian companies.

Ustenko also accused BP of continuing to receive payments from Rosneft in the form of dividends, citing a recent analysis by the non-governmental organization Global Witness. The analysis said that by failing to sell its stake in Rosneft, BP “continues to receive profit distributions to shareholders, known as dividends”, from the Russian company.

Based on a payment to Rosneft shareholders last month, Global Witness estimated that BP had pocketed around £580m (about $713m) in the first nine months of 2022.

The BP spokesman said the company had not received dividends from Rosneft stock since February and didn’t expect to receive any in the future, adding that the decision to sell its Rosneft shares resulted in a $24 billion hit.

They added that any payments made by a Russian company to “hostile states” abroad would be tightly controlled by the Russian government.

But Ustenko said in his letter that BP’s failure to sell its stake still makes it complicit in Rosneft’s huge profits this year, which have buoyed Russia’s war effort in Ukraine.

“BP will receive this money in a restricted Russian bank account, a clear indication of the historic mistake your company has made, but still BP will receive the dividend,” Ustenko wrote.

“No accounting mechanism or statement from BP will change that fact. This is blood money, pure and simple.

Ustenko accused BP of “waiting out the storm, returning to business as usual when the war is over”.

The BP spokesman denied this allegation, saying the company has “absolutely no intention of returning to ‘business as usual'”.

Throughout the war, Russia resorted to using energy as a weapon against the West, especially Europe, which depended on Russia for most of its oil and natural gas supplies. Despite the sanctions, Russia has managed to continue selling energy abroad this year, taking huge advantage of the extremely high oil and gas prices during the first months of the war.

Russian exports of fossil fuels netted Russian energy companies 158 billion euros ($166 billion) during the first six months of the war, according to a study by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air. Energy revenues have contributed about 43 billion euros ($45 billion) to Russia’s federal budget since the start of the war, according to the study, helping to finance the war in Ukraine.

This story was originally published on Fortune.com

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