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Russian Court Overturns Ban on Kazakh Oil Exports

The KazMunaiGas building in Nur-Sultan. Meridianets (CC BY-SA 4.0)

A Russian court on Monday overturned a ruling for a 30-day ban on the unloading of oil deliveries from Kazakhstan, a source of tensions between the two countries.

Last week, Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered officials to find oil export routes bypassing Russia in a move that risked deepening tensions that have emerged between the two neighbors over Ukraine.

The order came after a Russian court ordered a 30-day ban on unloading from the 1,500-kilometer (930-mile) pipeline from Kazakh oil fields to the Novorossiysk terminal, citing environmental violations.  

Kazakhstan has already seen two notable interruptions to its crude exports via a pipeline that unloads at the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk in the months since Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in February.

The stoppages have triggered speculation that the Kremlin might be punishing its Central Asian ally for its neutral stance on Ukraine.

But on Monday, a court in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar replaced the 30-day suspension order with a fine of 200,000 rubles ($3,250), said the Caspian Pipeline Consortium which operates the pipeline.

The consortium said that the 30-day halt would lead to "irreversible consequences for the production process."

Speaking at last month's economic forum in St. Petersburg where he was sharing the stage with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, President Tokayev raised eyebrows by calling Russia-backed separatist entities in eastern Ukraine "quasi-states" and saying that Kazakhstan would not recognize them.

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