Ocean carriers suspend Russia services

by Emily Atkins

Major ocean carriers are suspending services to Russia today.

A.P. Moller – Maersk, CMA CGM, and MSC announced they will no longer accept bookings for Russia-bound cargo. Maersk said this applies to bookings within ocean, air and intercontinental rail to and from Russia, with the exception of foodstuffs, medical and humanitarian supplies.

In a customer bulletin, Maersk said it is closely following the new sanctions against Russia and the regular adjustments that are being made to the list of restrictions, and is adjusting its booking processes accordingly. Maersk said it is “deeply concerned by how the crisis keeps escalating in Ukraine,” and added that the safety and stability of its operations is being directly and indirectly affected by the sanctions.

“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. We are also starting to see the effect on global supply chain flows such as delays and detention of cargo by customs authorities across various transshipment hubs – overall resulting in unpredictable operational impacts,” the bulletin said.

CMA CGM said it has raised alert levels throughout the company and took preventive measures to protect IT systems as well as customers’ personal and company data.

Significant delays

Significant delays are occurring 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. The inspections of export and transshipment cargo bound for Russia are intended to ensure compliance with sanctions and export controls recently imposed by different jurisdictions.

“The delays are expected to have ripple effects across the regional ocean network, resulting in further delays and congestion,” Maersk said.

The carrier also pointed out that due to sanctions it “cannot receive from or make payments to any sanctioned Russian banks, or any other sanctioned party”.

“It is key for Maersk that we minimize supply chain disruption and do not add to the global congestion in ports and depots. For cargo already underway and bookings placed before this suspension was announced, we will do our utmost to deliver it to its intended destination. Consequently, we will still call Russia although we will not accept new bookings unless they belong in the exception categories mentioned above.”

MSC

MSC’s halt covers all areas including the Baltics, Black Sea and Far East Russia. MSC will also continue to accept and screen bookings for delivery of essential goods such as food, medical equipment and humanitarian goods.

MSC’s March 1 customer bulletin said the company “has been closely monitoring the advice from governments about new sanctions, following the February 2022 conflict in Ukraine, and has been operating shipping and inland services to and from Russia in full compliance with international sanctions measures, applicable to it.