Viktor Medvedchuk

Nika Anderson, Reporter

Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Kremlin politician in Ukraine, has been exporting oil to the US even after America imposed sanctions on him in 2014. Medvedchuk is a close ally of Vladimir Putin; the godfather of this oligarch’s daughter happens to be Putin himself. A few weeks ago, Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, blocked Medvedchuk’s television channels to combat Russian propaganda. It comes as no surprise why America would sanction this individual, but there has been a loophole that is being exploited. Medvedchuk’s petroleum products have found their way to our nation from an oil processing plant in Novoshakhtinsk, Russia. Medvedchuk’s wife, Oksana Marchenko is the formal owner of the Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery, but it is operated by her husband. Medvedchuk may be sanctioned by the US, but his wife and other family members are not. This has allowed them to circumvent the law and continue this ongoing cycle of corruption.

“My wife, Oksana Marchenko, is not in business. She owns a business. And I run the business. Why can’t I own a business? Because my lovely Americans imposed sanctions on me,” explains Medvedchuk.

Fuel from Novoshakhtinsk is transported to a terminal at the Rostov Port. Then, through the company Rosewood Shipping, these products journey across the Black Sea, all the way to the US on eight oil tankers, owned by Marchenko. Russian oil is traded through intermediaries such as the Swiss firm, NewCoal Trading AG. Although this indirect trade is legal, this company has been involved with the family of Gleb Khor, a parliamentarian of the Russian State Duma. Six exports from the Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery were confirmed in February and April 2020 to the Port of Houston, Texas, according to US import data. ExxonMobil had purchased an estimated $150 million worth of semi-finished gasoline products from this Russian oil refinery. Spokesman for ExxonMobil, Todd Spitler affirms that no sanctions are being violated through this trade. However, the Novoshakhtinsk plant is supported by Russia’s Ministry of Energy and is approved by other Kremlin figures.

Many pro-Russian officials are bypassing financial restrictions even more since Venezuela was sanctioned in 2014. Another similar example is the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will supply Russian natural gas to Germany. The sanctions that Washington imposed on this project are unsatisfactory and will hardly have any effect. These energy deliveries are not seen as a negotiation, but rather, as a result of weak enforcement of sanctions and the European Union’s dependency on these fuels. Western European nations are at fault in Putin’s rise to power with these purchases. Medvedchuk is but one of the many examples of how corruption is being catalyzed under these conditions that America and the EU creates. There are many entities who have had their visas banned by these Western nations that do not visit these countries anyways. The EU’s current restrictions do not bring the desired impacts.