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Container Lines Suspend Russia Bookings

John Konrad
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February 28, 2022
Reuters

COPENHAGEN/LONDON, Feb 28 (Reuters) – Ocean Network Express (ONE) on Monday suspended container bookings to and from Russia hours after Maersk said it was considering doing the same in response to Western sanctions on Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine.

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

“Booking acceptance to and from St Petersburg, Russia is suspended with immediate effect until further notice whilst we evaluate the operational feasibility,” Singapore-headquartered ONE said in a customer advisory on Monday. 

ONE added that it had also suspended bookings for the Russian port of Novorossiisk as well as the Ukrainian container port of Odessa.

Germany’s Hapag Lloyd said on Feb 24 it had issued a temporary suspension on bookings for Russia and halted sailings for Ukraine. A Hapag spokesperson said on Monday it was “due to the developments we have seen last week and to ensure we comply with any sanctions imposed”.

Meanwhile, Maersk said on Monday it was closely monitoring the fast-evolving sanctions and restrictions imposed against Russia, and making preparations to comply with them.

“Our preparations include a possible suspension of Maersk bookings to and from Russia on ocean and inland,” it said in a statement.

Related: Britain’s Transport Secretary Calls on UK Ports to Deny Access to Russian-Linked Ships

In a coordinated response, the United States, European countries and others have made the unusual move of targeting Russia’s central bank with financial sanctions and put limits on cross-border transactions by the country’s largest lenders.

Maersk, which handles roughly one in six containers shipped worldwide, said it was focusing on safeguarding types of containers and cold chain operations that “include important goods such as groceries and pharmaceuticals”.

Maersk said limitations to operations over Russian air space would impact its air services.

A spokesperson declined to elaborate on the possible measures and said the company expects to provide further information later on Monday.

The company last year generated roughly 2.5% of its total revenue from Russia. 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.

Maersk has been active in Russia since 1992. 

Last week, the company halted all port calls in Ukraine until the end of February and has shut its main office in Odessa on the Black Sea coast. 

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation,” designed not to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbor’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.

(Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Stine Jacobsen in Copenhagen and Jonathan Saul in London. Editing by David Goodman, Frank Jack Daniel and Andrew Heavens)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022.

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