Photo: Reuters

The three most prominent container lines in the world temporarily halted cargo shipments to and from Russia on Tuesday following Western sanctions on Moscow after it attacked Ukraine.

Russia’s attack on its neighbor, which Moscow calls a “special military operation,” is the biggest assault in Europe since the Cold War. 

The international shipping company MSC is the largest in capacity and cargo. The Swiss-based firm announced that as of March 1st, it had issued “a temporary stoppage on all cargo bookings to/from Russia, covering all access areas including Baltics, Black Sea and Far East Russia.” 

It said, “MSC will continue to accept and screen bookings for delivery of essential goods such as food, medical equipment and humanitarian goods.” 

The Danish shipping company Maersk announced that it would temporarily stop operations to and from Russia, saying that the pause across all Russian ports would exempt food, medical and humanitarian supplies. 

“As the stability and safety of our operations is already being directly and indirectly impacted by sanctions, new Maersk booking within ocean and inland to and from Russia will be temporarily suspended,” according to a statement issued by the company. 

The world’s third-largest carrier, CMA CGM from France, has announced that it will be halting all bookings to and from Russia until further notice. The company points out safety concerns as their reason for doing so.

The decision to discontinue operations linked with Russia comes after two shipping companies, Ocean Network Express and Hapag Lloyd, made similar decisions.

The globe has faced immense trouble with the supply chain holdup for the past year rooted in the soaring demand for retail products shipped on container ships and lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

MSC announced that it would tap consumers directly regarding any Russia-linked cargo already in shipment.

“MSC has been closely monitoring the advice from governments about new sanctions,” MSC added.