Ukrainian protesters are demanding a boycott of Russian oil company Lukoil over its connections to the Kremlin, claiming it finances the war in Ukraine.
The privately owned petrol company is the second largest in Russia and operates in the Benelux region through its 260 stations as independent local entities.
“How many children did you kill today by buying Lukoil’s petrol?” one protester shouted at a customer filling up his vehicle.
“I’ve always put petrol in my car here,” the customer told Euronews. “She just told me that I finance war. For me, I don’t finance war, I just put petrol in my car.”
Despite not being included in the EU’s sanctions, its former CEO, Vagit Alekperov, resigned after being sanctioned by the West.
The NGO Promote Ukraine found connections between Lukoil Belgium and its headquarters in Moscow.
“All Lukoil petrol stations in Belgium work under a franchise agreement and under this agreement the petrol stations entrepreneurs have to pay royalties for using Lukoil brand and those royalties at the end go to Russia Lukoil,” Oksana Bulda from Promote Ukraine told Euronews.
“This is not simply about making business it is more than business, it is about lobbying in Russian interest, about Russian disinformation and propaganda and of course sponsoring the war.”
But Lukoil rejects these claims. In March, Lukoil’s board of directors called “for the soonest termination” of what they called “armed conflict”.
“We are acting here as a local company with independent people, we supply jobs for those local people, we pay taxes here and we supply jobs for a thousand people,” Els Ruysen from Lukoil Belgium NV said. “As you know, as the oil is coming from Russia, which is also the case with other fuel stations it doesn’t matter where you fill up, you always can have some Russian fuel in the mix.”
Lukoil, as well as other petrol stations in the EU, has already started looking for alternatives to Russian fuel. In a few months, European sanctions will come into effect, banning the purchase of Russian oil.