EU and US tighten sanctions against Russia

On Tuesday, the EU executive proposed banning Russian ships from European ports.

So far, none of the 27 EU member states has instituted a national ban — unlike Britain, which did so in early March.

The European Commission is also looking at banning Russian coal imports with EU member state ambassadors set to discuss the measures later today.

According to the fresh proposal, the package will prevent Russian vessels from accessing the EU, with exceptions made for oil, gas, food and medicines. A ban on Russian and Belarusian road transport operators is also being discussed.

Bans on importing wood, cement, rubber and chemicals from Russia are also on the list while the country’s top four banks face further sanctions.

The United States, meanwhile, will impose new sanctions today on Russian banks and officials and ban new investment in Russia. The sanctions will increase curbs on financial institutions and state-owned enterprises in Russia and target Russian government officials and their families.

For Russian shipping companies, operations have become increasingly difficult of late with insurers ditching coverage, class societies pulling back and a host of European bunker suppliers refusing to refuel Russian ships.

Trying to get around the web of sanctions, a number of Russian ships have opted to reregister their vessels to flags of convenience with Israeli maritime AI firm tallying 18 Russian vessels switching flags last month.

On the ground on day 42 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, port cities in the south continue to suffer some of the worst bombardment from the invading forces.

The dire situation in Mariupol, where 160,000 citizens remain trapped, is showing no sign of an imminent cease in hostilities. Mariupol sits between Donetsk in the Donbass region and Crimea. It is one of three critical cities along with Melitopol and Kherson that make up for Russia’s strategic objective in the east to secure the region and create a land bridge between Donbass and Crimea. Russia now controls more than 80% of the Ukrainian Black Sea coastline with shipping patterns in the area dramatically reshaped over the past month (see maps below).

Splash reported yesterday Ukrainian authorities have said that a Dominican Republic-flagged general cargo vessel sunk at the port of Mariupol after being hit by Russian shelling. Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service was able to evacuate the crew to safety.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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