Due to the effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Japanese container line ONE has suspended all cargo bookings in and out of major Russian and Ukrainian seaports, the company announced Monday. It joins Hapag-Lloyd, which suspended bookings to Russia on February 24, the first day of the invasion.
In an advisory to shippers, ONE said that it is suspending booking acceptance to and from Odessa, Ukraine; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Novorossiysk, Russia until further notice. The firm is working on alternative solutions for shipments that are already under way, and its staff in the region are still engaged and are working remotely.
Number-two container carrier Maersk confirmed Monday that it is considering taking similar steps.
“We at A.P. Moller-Maersk are closely monitoring and preparing to comply with the ever-evolving sanctions and restrictions imposed against Russia while we safeguard our operations and our people in consideration of the constant developing situation,” Maersk said in a statement. “Our preparations include a possible suspension of Maersk bookings to and from Russia on ocean and inland.”
Maersk said that it is making every effort to ensure delivery for cargo that is already on the water, with a particularly close eye to cold chain operations for food and pharmaceuticals.
In addition to war risks for shipping in the Black Sea – along with the potential public perception and labor-relations issues attending Russian port calls – the simple act of processing payments with Russian counterparties will be a challenge for most businesses going forward. With most Russian financial institutions cut off from the SWIFT bank messaging system, and Russia’s central bank under sanctions, basic financial transactions with Russian entities will likely be difficult and cumbersome in the days and weeks to come.