Sri Lanka Put Rank Ingratitude Into Russian Helping Hand

After Sri Lanka has faced a terrible economic crisis this spring, Russia decided to help the country with oil import that was so highly needed. The way Sri Lanka responded to Russia’s kindness was the country’s detaining a Russian plane on request of the third party. 

In April, Sri Lanka faced, according to experts, the strongest economic crisis in 74 years of the state’s existence. It also led to a political crisis in the country. Mass protests were held in Colombo, in which, among others, Buddhist monks and students participated. Sri Lanka’s external debt has grown to $25 billion.

For several months, residents stood in long queues to buy fuel, food, and medicine. The country’s finance minister, Ali Sabri, said Sri Lanka would need about $3 billion in foreign aid over six months to restore supplies of basic necessities, including fuel and medicines.

On May 28, as RBC reports with reference to Reuters, Sri Lanka should have paid $72.6 million for 90 thousand tonnes of Russian oil within a few weeks, which was then stated by Sri Lankan Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera. According to him, Sri Lanka has turned to many countries, including Russia, for support in the import of crude oil and petroleum products.

A batch of 90 thousand tonnes of Russian oil was ordered through the Dubai-based company Coral Energy, Wijesekera said, adding that this would facilitate the restart of the country’s only oil refinery, which was closed on March 25.

“The next batch will also be ordered from the same company. Another batch will be required over the next two weeks to maintain the continuous operation of the plant,” the minister said.

According to his estimates, Sri Lanka will need $568 million to pay for fuel supplies in June.

Earlier, the chairman of the Board of Directors of Ceylon Petroleum (the owner of the refinery), Sumit Wijesinghe, told Bloomberg that Sri Lanka has started buying Russian Siberian Light grade oil. According to Wijesekera, the plant would resume work in six days. He noted that Siberian Light is one of the few grades of oil that the refinery can process.

On May 26, the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed to RIA Novosti that Moscow had received an appeal from Sri Lanka asking for assistance in overcoming the energy crisis in the country.

The Sri Lankan news agency News First wrote on May 27 that the Russian tanker Nissos Delos, carrying almost 90 thousand tonnes of crude oil, has already arrived in Colombo. Employees of the Sapugaskand oil refinery said that this volume will allow them to produce 1 thousand tonnes of fuel daily for two weeks, the news agency noted.

Sri Lanka’s “Gratitude”

And now Sri Lanka has “thanked” Russia for its help. On June 2, the Aeroflot flight was delayed for a day from Colombo (Sri Lanka) to Moscow (Russia). The departure of flight SU 0289 was scheduled for 10.20 am Moscow time on Thursday, with the arrival at Sheremetyevo at 7.35 pm. Later, the departure was postponed to 12.50 pm on Friday, June 3, and arrival in Moscow at 7.48 pm.

The flight to Moscow was to be operated by an Airbus A330, which, according to the FlightRadar24 service, arrived in the capital of Sri Lanka on the morning of June 2. According to Airfleets, this aircraft received a Russian registration at the end of April, and before that it was registered in Bermuda.

At the end of February, the EU countries imposed new sanctions on the Russian transport sector. Among the restrictions was a ban on the sale of aircraft, spare parts and equipment for aircraft. In addition, there was a demand to return to lessors all leased aircraft.

After the introduction of Western sanctions, Russian airlines have seriously reduced the number of international flights, including to “friendly” countries. The decision followed mass arrests of aircraft abroad. Russian Aviation recommended suspending flights using aircraft leased from foreign companies and registered not in the Russian Federation.

And now, as reported, the Colombo Commercial High Court granted the complaint of the Irish leasing company to the Russian Aeroflot and banned the Airbus A330 aircraft from leaving the country until June 16, 2022.

As specified, the claims were received from a company from Ireland, Celestial Aviation Trading Limited. Its representatives filed a complaint and demanded that the plane of the Russian airline be banned from leaving the territory of Sri Lanka. The lessor reportedly insists that he had previously concluded a settlement agreement with Aeroflot, and therefore now demands a ban on departure.

As specified, all the passengers who were supposed to go to the Russian capital on this flight were accommodated at the hotel during downtime.

Ru-Main, 03.06.2022
Source: Interfax, NEWS.RU 

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