The world’s largest shipping line, Maersk, has suspended all shipping to and from Russia to comply with widespread sanctions against the country for its invasion of Ukraine.
The suspension will apply to all goods except food, medical supplies, and humanitarian supplies, according to the shipping giant.
Maersk has been active in Russia since 1992 and it operates container shipping routes to St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad in the Baltic Sea, Novorossiysk in the Black Sea, and to Vladivostok and Vostochny on Russia’s east coast.
“As the stability and safety of our operations is already being directly and indirectly impacted by sanctions, new Maersk bookings within ocean, air, and intercontinental rail to and from Russia will be temporarily suspended, with the exception of foodstuffs, medical and humanitarian supplies (bar dual-use items),” the company said in a statement.
“This exception is to underline that our company is focusing on social responsibility and making the efforts to support society despite all the complications and uncertainties within the current supply chain to/from Russia.”
Maersk said it would do its “utmost” to deliver cargo already on the water to its intended destinations.
“Consequently, we will still call Russia although we will not accept new bookings unless they belong in the exception categories mentioned above,” said Maersk. “However, please expect significant delays as countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany are holding back vessels en route to Russia in search of restricted commodities, primarily dual-use items.”
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Maersk owns 31 percent of Russian port operator Global Ports (GLPRq.L), which runs six terminals in Russia and two in Finland. Global Ports’ shareholders also include Russian state nuclear company Rosatom and Russian businessman Sergey Shiskarev.
“With Global Ports we are looking at how to comply with the ever-evolving sanctions and restrictions and preparing possible next steps,” Maersk said.
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The U.S., European countries, U.K. and Canada have all imposed sanctions on Russia. The U.K. government asked port operators to prevent all ships with ties to Russia from docking.
Other measures are blocking certain banks’ access to the SWIFT payment system and freezing the assets of Russia’s central bank.
Switzerland-based MSC, the world’s biggest container shipping company by capacity, said in a customer advisory that as of March 1, it has introduced “a temporary stoppage on all cargo bookings to and from Russia, covering all access areas including Baltics, Black Sea and Far East Russia.”
Other companies that suspended sales in Russia this week include Apple, Google, Ford and Harley-Davidson.