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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale

France’s TotalEnergies accused of fuelling Russian bombers in Ukraine

NGOs accuse TotalEnergies of supplying gas condensate used to fuel Russian Sukhoi Su-35S fighter aircrafts among other planes. AFP - ALEXANDER NEMENOV

Two NGOs have filed a complaint against French power giant TotalEnergies for "complicity in war crimes" for allegedly helping fuel Russian planes that have bombed Ukraine.

The France-based Darwin Climax Coalition and Ukrainian group Razom We Stand confirmed to AFP news agency that they had handed their complaint to the national anti-terrorist prosecutor, who investigates war crime allegations.

The NGOs accuse TotalEnergies of exploiting a gas field manufacturing kerosene that has been used by Russian planes during bombing raids on Ukraine.

Among them was the March 16 strike on a Mariupol theatre that killed around 600 civilians.

They allege the company "contributed to providing the Russian government with the means necessary for the commission of war crimes", French daily Le Monde reported.

Contacted by AFP, TotalEnergies rejected the accusations, calling them "outrageous", "defamatory" and "unfounded".

Until recently the energy giant owned a 49 percent share in Terneftegaz, a company that extracts gas from the Termokarstovoye field in northern Russia.

The other 51 percent was held by Russian company Novatek, in which the French firm also owns a direct 19.4 percent stake.

'No kerosene' for Russian army

In August, an investigation by London-based NGO Global Witness said gas condensate from Total’s Termokarstovoye field was transported across Russia for refining before being shipped as jet fuel to Russian Air Force bases near Ukraine.

Such a move would violate sanctions put in place by France and the European Union following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

"The pilots of these warplanes have been accused by international experts and the Ukrainian government of indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas, including a 3 March strike on Chernihiv, near Kyiv, which reportedly killed 47 civilians," said the Global Witness investigation.

Following the publication of a Le Monde report on the Global Witness investigation, TotalEnergies denied it had produced kerosene for the Russian army and said it had sold its 49 percent share in Terneftegaz to Novatek on 18 July.

The sale was finalised in September.

Double standards

In its statement to Le Monde on Friday, TotalEnergies added that unstable condensates produced by Terneftegaz had been "exported abroad" and therefore could not have been used by the Russian army as fuel for its planes.

Lawyers from the two NGOs told AFP it was time for multinationals to be held to account.

"Justice should not be blind when faced with the indirect but essential support of multinationals to the war effort, and to the considerable profits that they continue to enjoy after the invasion of Ukraine," it said.

"France cannot in the same breath condemn the invasion, and remain inactive in the face of the behaviours propping it up," lawyers William Bourdon, Vincent Brengarth and Henri Thulliez said.

(with wires)

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