World’s largest container lines suspend shipments to Russia

MSC and Maersk follow Ocean Network Express and Hapag Lloyd in stopping freight bookings to and from Russia

On Tuesday March 1, the world’s two largest container lines temporarily suspended freight shipments to and from Russia in response to Western sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, in another blow to trade with the country.

Russia’s assault on its neighbor, which Moscow calls a “special operation”, is the largest state-to-state invasion in Europe since World War II.

Switzerland-headquartered MSC, the world’s largest container shipping line by capacity, said in a notice to customers that it introduced on Tuesday “a temporary halt to all cargo bookings to/from from Russia, covering all access areas including the Baltic, Black Sea and Russian Far East.

“MSC will continue to accept and monitor bookings for the delivery of essential goods such as food, medical equipment and humanitarian goods,” he said.

Denmark’s Maersk separately said it would temporarily halt all container shipments to and from Russia, also adding that the suspension covering all Russian ports would not include food, medical and humanitarian supplies.

“As the stability and security of our operations are already directly and indirectly affected by the sanctions, new Maersk ocean and inland bookings to and from Russia will be temporarily suspended,” he said. the company said in a statement.

The moves follow similar moves already made by Singapore-headquartered Ocean Network Express and Germany’s Hapag Lloyd – cutting Russia off from the world’s leading container shipping companies, adding to freight challenges ahead.

Over the past year, the world has grappled with supply chain bottlenecks caused by growing demand for retail products transported on container ships and pandemic-related lockdowns.

MSC said it would contact customers directly for any Russia-related cargo that was already in transit.

“MSC has closely followed government advice regarding further sanctions,” the private group added.

In a coordinated response, the United States, European countries and others took the unusual step of targeting Russia’s central bank with financial sanctions and limiting cross-border transactions by the country’s biggest lenders.

Maersk owns 31% of Russian port operator Global Ports, which operates 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 reviewing how to comply with the ever-changing sanctions and restrictions and preparing for possible next steps,” Maersk said.

Maersk operates container shipping routes to St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad in the Baltic Sea, Novorossiysk in the Black Sea, and to Vladivostok and Vostochny on the east coast of Russia.

The Copenhagen-based company has around 500 employees in Russia. Last week, it temporarily interrupted all stops in Ukraine, where it has around 60 employees in Odessa. –

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