Shipping Companies Suspend Russia Bookings Due to Ukraine Conflict

port containers

In early March, multiple global shipping firms, including Switzerland-based MSC, Denmark-headquartered Maersk and France’s CMA CGM announced that they’ve halted cargo bookings to and from Russia until further notice due to Russia’s invasion of neighboring country Ukraine.

“As the crisis in Ukraine continues and governments impose new sanctions on Russia and its allies, A.P. Moller—Maersk is keeping a close eye on developments and making necessary adjustments in line with the latest restrictions,” Maersk said in a March 1 statement explaining its decision.

“As the stability and safety of our operations is already being directly and indirectly impacted by sanctions, new Maersk bookings within ocean, air and intercontinental rail to and from Russia will be temporarily suspended, with the exception of foodstuffs, medical and humanitarian supplies,” the statement continued.

Maersk said that it will still call Russia although it would not accept new bookings unless they belong in the exception categories mentioned above.

MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) also announced on March 1 that it was halting all Russia cargo bookings, but that it would continue to accept and screen bookings for delivery of essential products, including food, medical equipment and humanitarian goods.

CMA CGM said that it was suspending all bookings to and from Russia until further notice starting March 1 “in the interest of safety.”

“We have raised our alert levels and took preventive measures to protect our IT systems as well as your personal and company data,” the company explained. “We will continue to monitor the situation and take additional measures as necessary to protect our employees, our crew members and to allow the transportation of our customers’ goods as much as possible.”

In addition to suspending goods movement in Russia, CMA CGM and Maersk each announced separately during the first week of March that they’ve also suspended cargo movement in Belarus, a key Russian ally.

“For Belarus, going forward, only bookings for foodstuff, medicines and humanitarian supplies (except dual use) will be accepted after extensive screening,” Maersk explained in its statement. “In addition, as Maersk acts in full compliance with legal regulations and its policies, we cannot engage with, receive from or make payments to any sanctioned banks, or any other sanctioned party—including Belarusian and Russian parties.”

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, with some ground forces entering the country via Belarus, which is bordered by Russia to the east and northeast and Ukraine to the south.

The conflict has led to over a million Ukraine civilians fleeing the country, creating a humanitarian crisis in the region.