LONDON - Russian tankers have smuggled jet fuel to Syria through EU waters, bolstering military supplies to a war-torn country where Moscow is carrying out air strikes in support of the government, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.
At least two Russian-flagged ships made deliveries - which contravene EU sanctions - via Cyprus, an intelligence source with a European Union government told Reuters. There was a sharp increase in shipments in October, said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
A separate shipping source familiar with the movements of the Russian-flagged vessels said the ships visited Cypriot and Greek ports before delivering fuel to Syria.
The Russian defense and transport ministries did not initially respond to requests for comment. The defense ministry later said EU sanctions on fuel supplies to Syria could not be applied to the Russian air group in that country.
A spokeswoman for EU foreign affairs and security policy said the implementation of EU restrictions lay with member states. "We trust that competent authorities are complying with their obligation to ensure respect of the restrictive measures in place and to pursue any circumvention attempts," she added.
Greece's foreign ministry referred questions to the shipping ministry, which was not immediately available to comment.