From the Editor: War & Maritime

As you surely know by now, in late February, Russia significantly escalated what had been an ongoing conflict by launching a full-scale invasion into one of its neighboring countries, Ukraine.

And although the conflict is taking place on the other side of the world, some of its effects have definitely impacted the West Coast maritime industry. For those keeping track, here’s some of the major ways in which the industry has reacted to and been affected by the conflict.

In early March, union longshore workers up and down the coast, in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, said they were refusing to load or unload any cargo bound from or to Russia. This means that at all 29 ports that utilize International Longshore & Warehouse Union labor, cargo labeled as Russian is not being handled at all.

“We send a strong message that we unequivocally condemn the Russian invasion,” ILWU International President Willie Adams said on March 3. “West Coast dockworkers are proud to do our part to join with those around the world who are bravely taking a stand and making sacrifices for the good of Ukraine.”

The Port of Long Beach, the second-largest port in North America, released a statement after the ILWU’s action saying that although Russians goods represent a relatively small portion of the port’s overall goods movement, the POLB “stands in solidarity with the ILWU.”

More on the longshore union’s refusal to handle Russian cargo can be found on page 16 of this issue.

Additionally, on March 8 President Joe Biden imposed a federal ban on Russian oil imports.

“Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at U.S. ports, and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine,” the President said during his announcement. “The United States produces far more oil domestically than all of European — all the European countries combined.  In fact, we’re a net exporter of energy.  So we can take this step when others cannot.”

Up north, the Government of Canada didn’t just ban Russian oil imports, it took the additional step of barring all Russian ships from its waters.

On March 1, Canada’s Minister of Transport, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard announced that the Canadian Government was banning Russian-owned or registered ships and fishing vessels in Canadian ports and internal waters.

“The Canadian Coast Guard and its members will be there to support on-water law enforcement partners. Canada and our allies will continue to stand with Ukraine and its people,” Joyce Murray, the country’s minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, said.

Various maritime agencies across the globe have also made it clear which side they’re on.

The International Association of Ports and Harbors in early March released a statement declaring its opposition to the invasion.

“Ukrainian ports are in the frontline of the conflict,” the IAPH said. “Our thoughts and prayers therefore particularly go out to the staff and families of the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority—the state-owned company that runs all seaports in Ukraine—and the Ukrainian port communities.”

The IAPH’s position is in addition to three of the world’s leading maritime shipping firms halting cargo bookings to and from Russia until further notice, as well as neighboring country Belarus, which allowed Russia to use some of its land to move ground forces into Ukraine during the Feb. 24 invasion. Belarus is bordered by Russia to the east and northeast and Ukraine to the south.

Switzerland-based MSC, Denmark-headquartered Maersk and France’s CMA CGM are the shippers that have all halted movement of Russian and Belarusian goods.

“For Belarus, going forward, only bookings for foodstuff, medicines and humanitarian supplies will be accepted after extensive screening,” Maersk explained in a statement.

Managing Editor Mark Nero can be reached at