Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development has authorized NT Marine, an Estonian company with close ties to Belarusian businessman Nikolay Voroby, to supply over 600,000 tons of coking and steam coal from Russia to Ukraine, RBC reported.
According to the business daily, the contract to supply coal was not signed with NT Marine, but with Interservice, the largest oil trader in Belarus, also owned by Voroby.
Mikhail Volynets, a Ukrainian MP and the head of the Ukrainian Independent Union of Miners, told RBC that Voroby maintained close relations with Viktor Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian politician with ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
NT Marine is expected to continue supplying similar volumes to Ukrainian steel producers and power generators from 2020.
In April, the Russian government banned all oil and coal imports to Ukraine in retaliation against the decision of the former Ukrainian government of Volodymyr Groysman to restrict imports on Russian goods. However, Russia allows indirect export of Russian coal from third countries through government quotas.
Earlier this year, data from the National Statistics Committee of Belarus revealed that the country’s brown coal and anthracite coal exports to Ukraine had skyrocketed by 980 and 340 times, respectively, last year, compared with 2017.