Thursday

19th May 2022

Opinion

One month of #BoycottLukoil campaign in Brussels

  • On Lukoil's official website it states: 'We always guarantee you the lowest prices on the market'. But at what price? (Photo: Marta Barandiy/Promote Ukraine)
Listen to article

For one month now, the volunteers of NGO "Promote Ukraine", armed with photos of dead Ukrainian civilians, have called on the public to boycott Lukoil petrol stations around Brussels.

Many of us, and many of you, will have seen the red-and-white Lukoil sign in your neighbourhoods.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • We, volunteers, believe in the power of individual actions each one of us takes every day. Therefore, we will continue to come to Lukoil stations in Brussels every Sunday (Photo: Marta Barandiy/Promote Ukraine)

However, as we found out during our Sunday protests, a lot of people do not know that Lukoil is Russia's second-largest oil company with a market value of €49.5bn. At one of the gas stations, one woman told us "If I would have known it has any relation to Russia, I would not have come here today".

Many also do not know that there are around 180 Lukoil stations in Belgium. The company entered the Belgian market in 2007. It expanded in 2009, just one year after Russia invaded Georgia, and added another 19 stations in 2014, the year when Russia invaded Crimea and started a war in Donbas.

Fast forward to 2022, and Russia is waging a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Member states of the European Union are hesitating, debating, estimating financial losses, and then debating more, while continuing to pay €1bn a day for oil and gas to Russia.

In one of the meetings of our volunteers, we agreed that we need to speak out and take action at a local level.

After one month, we can now draw some conclusions.

First of all, we received a lot of encouragement from drivers and passers-by who regularly gave us thumbs up or commented on the good work we are doing. The best feeling for every volunteer that chooses to spend Sunday in front of a Lukoil station, is when drivers leave upon seeing our banners "One drop of Lukoil gasoline = One drop of Ukrainian blood", "Lukoil finances Russian bombs that kill children" and "Stop buying Russian Oil!".

At the same time, some, especially the owners of these stations, do not support our action.

One argument that we often hear is that "the calls for a boycott are unfair, because the vast majority of Lukoil stations in Belgium are managed by franchises. We have nothing to do with Putin and his regime".

What is often not said, however, is that Belgian owners pay Lukoil for their franchises. This money ends up in the hands of Putin's regime which needs it to finance the terrible and senseless war in Ukraine.

Another argument we hear is "the company reaffirmed its independence from the regime" referring to this statement.

However, in it, there is no condemnation of Putin's war against Ukraine. Also, as some observers noted, it looks like an attempt to limit the international consequences because Lukoil has been heavily investing in its infrastructure and businesses around the world, including many in the West.

Simply put, they do not want to lose money and profits.

Some drivers also tell us that they would like to stop using Lukoil but they have company cards that allow them to fuel their cars for free. We have already sent letters to the companies asking them to change this and follow the example of Belfius Bank that deactivated the CarPay-Diem service for Lukoil petrol stations already on 1 March.

Low price comes at a high price

It is the ethical and corporate social responsibility of every company to stop assisting Russian companies in making profits that are used to finance the war machine.

On Lukoil's official website it states: "We always guarantee you the lowest prices on the market".

The moral and ethical question each customer should ask next time he/she is passing by Lukoil — are the few saved euros worth the lives of a raped woman or a killed child? We all know the answer to this question.

We, volunteers, believe in the power of individual actions each one of us takes every day. Therefore, we will continue to come to Lukoil stations in Brussels every Sunday.

There is still work to be done in convincing people that "the lives of women and men are more important than trade, jobs and energy".

If you think the same, join us in your town, village and neighbourhood to boycott Lukoil and to stop financing the Russian war.

Author bio

Promote Ukraine is a Brussels-based non-profit media and civil society hub for the exchange of expertise between Ukraine and the EU.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

EU lobbies Hungary to break oil sanctions deadlock

After the EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen's Budapest trip, Hungary suggested it wants EU funds to offset the extra costs from receiving different oil sources, and the increased energy prices the planned Russian oil embargo entails.

More EU teams needed to prosecute Ukraine war crimes

A Joint Investigation Team combines prosecutors, police and judges from different countries who come together under the coordination of Eurojust to synchronise cross-border investigations —with a track record of achieving results: from the Bataclan attacks to the MH17 investigation.

Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy

Granting EU candidacy status to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will firmly anchor their ties with Brussels — and enable the EU to secure its place in the Black Sea region, connecting Europe to China and energy-rich Central Asia, bypassing Russia.

Will 'Putin's Nato' follow Warsaw Pact into obscurity?

Valdimir Putin's equivalent to Nato — the Collective Security Treaty Organization of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Belarus — is convening in Moscow next week to give cover that Russia is not alone in its war against Ukraine.

The EU Parliament Covid inquiry: the questions MEPs must ask

A basic lack of transparency around the EU's vaccines procurement negotiations has prevented effective public and parliamentary scrutiny. It has also made it impossible to answer some of the key questions we put forward here.

News in Brief

  1. Half of Gazprom's clients have opened rouble accounts
  2. Macron seeks 'quick' EU answer on Moldova application
  3. German chancellor to tour Western Balkans
  4. UN: more than 8,000 civilians killed or injured in Ukraine
  5. EU agrees new minimum gas storage target
  6. EU justice agency to have more roles on war crimes
  7. More than 50,000 Ukrainians refused entry into EU in 2021
  8. Germany open to EU treaty change 'if required'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. MEPs urge sanctioning the likes of ex-chancellor Schröder
  2. MEPs call for a more forceful EU response to Kremlin gas cut
  3. Catalan leader slams Pegasus use: 'Perhaps I'm still spied on'
  4. More EU teams needed to prosecute Ukraine war crimes
  5. French EU presidency struggling on asylum reforms
  6. EU states warn of looming food-price crisis
  7. Ultraconservatives in Putin's shadow
  8. Nordic Bridges unveil latest highlights of Spring programme

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us