TotalEnergies faces lawsuit for allegedly fueling Russian bombers

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A complaint of “complicity in war crimes” has been filed against TotalEnergies by two associations following reports that the oil company supplied fuel to Russian combat aircraft bombing Ukraine. 

The Ukrainian activist group Razom We Stand and the Bordeaux-based association Darwin Climax Coalitions filed the complaint on October 13, 2022, at the French Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office, according to AFP.  

The two NGOs accuse the French group of having supplied fuel to Russian bombers, particularly those involved in the airstrike on the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theatre in Mariupol, which civilians were using as an air raid shelter. The bombing may have killed up to 600 people, according to an AP investigation. 

“With its former 49 percent share in a Russian company that provides gas to a squadron of planes that is bombing Ukraine, Total bears a responsibility in the crimes that are committed”, said Svitlana Romanko, Director and Founder of Razom We Stand, in an emailed statement to AeroTime. “We cannot accept that foreign companies continue to get dividends from a Russian group that is fuelling these atrocities against our fellow citizens.”

Commenting on the lawsuit, TotalEnergies said the allegations were “outrageous,” “defamatory,” and “unfounded,” AFP reports. 

 

The Mariupol drama theatre after the airstrike (Credit: Wikimedia Commons) 

What happened? 

 
The case follows information revealed by Le Monde in August 2022, according to which TotalEnergies continued to operate its gas and gas condensate field in Termokarstovoye, northern Siberia, with its local partner Novatek, even after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. 

The French media outlet was able to follow the journey of the gas condensate thanks to the financial database Refinitiv, owned by the London Stock Exchange. 

After being refined in Omsk, the fuel was used to supply Russian air bases.  

For example, the Morozovsk Air Base, in the Rostov oblast, was found to have received fuel from Omsk several times per week during the war. The base, located around 120 kilometers east of Donetsk, houses the 959th Bomber Aviation Regiment operating three squadrons of Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bombers.  

The Malshevo Air Base in Voronezh Ooblast also received fuel from the Omsk refinery on several occasions between April 18 and June 19, 2022. Home of the 47th Composite Guards Aviation Regiment, which also operates two squadrons of Su-34s, it is a staging ground for bombing runs on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. 

Following Le Monde’s investigation, TotalEnergies said that the gas condensates from its deposit were not mixed with others in the Omsk refinery and were only intended for export. On August 26, 2022, the French energy giant announced it sold its 49% stake in their joint venture to its Russian partner.  

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