By Tyler Durden
While Russia is grappling with a financial blockade by the Western world, its physical isolation just got exponentially worse after Maersk – the world’s largest container shipping line – aid it would suspend cargo deliveries to and from Russia due to the sanctions imposed against the country for invading Ukraine.
Maersk said the suspension would cover all Russian ports but would not include foodstuffs, medical and humanitarian supplies.
“As the stability and safety of our operations is already being directly and indirectly impacted by sanctions, new Maersk bookings to and from Russia will be temporarily suspended, with exception of foodstuffs, medical and humanitarian supplies,” shipping giant Maersk said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We are deeply concerned by how the crisis keeps escalating in Ukraine,” the company added noting that it starts “seeing the effect on global supply chain flows such as delays, detention of cargo by customs authorities across various transshipment hubs, unpredictable operational impacts.”
Meanwhile, the Swiss-headquartered Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) – the world’s biggest container shipping company by capacity – said in a customer advisory that it will also stop all cargo bookings to and from Russia starting today, “covering all access areas including Baltics, Black Sea and Far East Russia,” the company said in a statement. Starting March 1, MSC had introduced “a temporary stoppage on all cargo bookings to/from Russia”.
“MSC will continue to accept and screen bookings for delivery of essential goods such as food, medical equipment and humanitarian goods,” it said.
MSC said it would contact customers directly in respect of any Russia-related cargo that was already in transit: “MSC has been closely monitoring the advice from governments about new sanctions,” the privately owned group added.
Maersk has been active in Russia since 1992 and owns 31 percent of Global Ports, a Russian port operator. The shipping company explained it is working with Global Ports in looking at “how to comply with the ever-evolving sanctions and restrictions and preparing possible next steps”.
Global Ports 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.
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 Russia’s east coast. The Copenhagen-based company has around 500 employees in Russia. Last week, it temporarily halted all port calls in Ukraine, where it has some 60 employees in Odessa.
The moves follow similar decisions already taken by Singapore-headquartered Ocean Network Express and Germany’s Hapag Lloyd – effectively cutting off Russia from the world’s leading container shipping companies, adding to freight challenges ahead.
For the past year the world has been struggling with supply chain bottlenecks caused by surging demand for retail goods transported on container ships and pandemic-related lockdowns.
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