Two of the world’s largest container shipping lines have announced that they are cutting service to Russia as Western sanctions that aim to isolate the Russian economy start to bite.
The Danish container shipping giant Maersk announced that it was temporarily suspending shipments to all Russian ports, although it is allowing exemptions for foodstuffs, medical, and humanitarian goods.
“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,” Maersk said in a statement.
The Swiss-based Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) also announced Tuesday that it was stopping cargo booking for inbound and outbound shipments for Russia. MSC said the ban applies to “all access areas including Baltics, Black Sea, and Far East Russia.” MSC will also allow exemptions for food, medical, and humanitarian goods.
The suspensions mean Russia is now cut off from a significant chunk of the world’s shipping capacity. Maersk alone owns and charters over 700 ships and accounts for 17 percent of the globe’s merchant container fleet.
US mail carriers UPS and FedEx have also announced that they are suspending deliveries to Russia. Other American companies have taken action to cut off business with Russia, including oil companies Shell and BP.
Some Russian citizens have denounced the Western sanctions as collective punishment since many inside Russia will bear the consequences. US sanctions and other economic pressure generally do little to change the target government, but they have a history of hurting ordinary people.