ABC News reports that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague concluded that Russia should compensate Greenpeace for seizing a ship the group’s campaigners used during an attempted protest the group conducted on a Russian drilling flotilla. The 2013 stunt was part of a protest against Russia conducting exploration for oil in the Arctic Circle in which protesters attempted to scale a drilling platform in order to unfurl a banner.
Russian authorities later seized the Greenpeace vessel Arctic Sunrise and arrested its crew in which the activists and freelance journalists on board faced piracy charges that would have resulted in a sentence of 15 years in jail. The crew and ship were later released as part of an amnesty agreement stemming from a free speech protest the band Pussy Riot conducted around the same time.
Upon learning of the ruling, Russia rejected the court’s decision. A spokesman for the country said Russia not only does not recognize the mediation body and the decision itself encourages unlawful actions.
The Arctic Sunrise was registered under the auspices of the Netherlands which is why a complaint against Russia was filed by Greenpeace at the international court in Hague. A critical review of the events surrounding the controversy puts the blame for the green group’s activist’s predicament squarely at the feet of the campaigners. Did Greenpeace really expect Russia to sit back and let the protest happen or not retaliate in some way?
The stunt the green activists tried to pull involved trespassing on a foreign vessel and is a typical way for the group to get publicity for the causes Greenpeace champions. The campaigners performed their charade knowing the risks it entailed and they are lucky Russia was as lenient as they were and got their ship back (despite the damage done).
Russia should not pay one ruble to Greenpeace and, simultaneously, the group should not pursue the claim. Not just for the injustice of it all but what most likely will occur if a similar incident happens again. Next time a Greenpeace ship decides to cross paths with a Russian vessel, the reaction may not be as civilized.