The Finnish Coast Guard sees new developments in Putin's "shadow fleet".
An expert considers an environmental catastrophe possible.
Helsinki/Bremen - According to Vladimir Putin, Western sanctions have (so far) not been able to harm the Russian economy.
According to the Finnish coast guard, it has recently noticed a reaction from Russia to the economic restrictions in the Ukraine war: There are apparently innovations in Russia's "shadow fleet".
Russia's "shadow fleet" in the Baltic Sea: Finland's coast guard warns - "disaster" possible?
"Since the latest sanctions came into force, we have seen slightly older vehicles that have not previously been used in freezing weather conditions," Swedish broadcaster SVT quoted Mikko Hirvi, deputy commander of the Finnish Coast Guard, as saying on Sunday (March 19).
According to the report, the Finnish authorities fear environmental damage in the already biologically damaged Baltic Sea.
"Not all vehicles are classified as ice classes," Hirvi warned.
Ships in this category are suitable for cruising on ice-covered waters.
A possible danger: oil spills in the Baltic Sea.
The Finnish Bay is a "challenging" body of water anyway, SVT reported.
But there is also concern that Russia could intentionally cause an oil catastrophe.
"It cannot be ruled out that Russia will use an oil spill in the Baltic Sea to create such a rift in Europe on the issue of relations with Russia," expert Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen told the broadcaster.
Tynkkynen teaches Russian environmental policy at the University of Helsinki.
Ukraine war and sanctions against Russia: Putin's "shadow fleet" arouses concern
The background: The EU, among others, has issued a price cap for Russian oil.
"If the price of Russian oil rises above the price cap, European ships and shipping companies can no longer transport Russian oil," Tynkkynen said.
"In this situation, Russia is trying to procure an alternative fleet." This is how Western sanctions could be circumvented.
These ships are now known as the "shadow fleet".
They don't fly the Russian flag, but rather the Liberian one, as Tynkkynen explained.
The measure is intended to help bring oil exports to countries such as India or China and thus continue to generate income from the mineral resources.
Rubric list image: © Montage: Imago/Yay-Images/AFP/Mikhail Metzel/fn