World's Largest Container Lines Shun Russian Ports

file image st. petersburg port
Quiet quayside: STS cranes at St. Petersburg (file image courtesy Andrew Shiva / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Published Mar 1, 2022 6:39 PM by The Maritime Executive

Five out of the world's six biggest container lines have suspended bookings to and from Russian ports after the invasion of Ukraine, joining a rising number of Western companies that are cutting ties with the Russian economy. Blue-chip companies like Apple, BP, Shell, Equinor, General Motors, Boeing, UPS and Fedex are suspending or permanently exiting their business activities in Russia, and most of the top ocean carriers are joining the exodus. 

Hapag-Lloyd announced the suspension of bookings to Russia last week, followed by ONE and Maersk. MSC and CMA CGM followed suit on Tuesday. The details vary between carriers, and at least one - MSC - will continue partial service.

"Mediterranean Shipping Company is introducing as of 1 March, with immediate effect, a temporary stoppage on all cargo bookings to/from Russia, covering all access areas including Baltics, Black Sea and Far East Russia," MSC said in a statement. "MSC will continue to accept and screen bookings for delivery of essential goods such as food, medical equipment and humanitarian goods."

MSC cited the rising tide of sanctions measures targeting Russian commerce in explaining its announcement. CMA CGM pointed to the need to maintain safety, and it said that it would also be upping its cybersecurity efforts, responding to the heightened cyber threat environment. 

With the exception of ONE, most East Asian carriers - notably Chinese state-owned COSCO, the fourth-largest line - have not announced any changes to service to Russia. 

Top image: STS cranes at the Port of St. Petersburg (file image courtesy Andrew Shiva / CC BY-SA 4.0)