The world’s three biggest shipping lines have suspended non-essential deliveries to Russia, joining a growing list of companies shunning Moscow amid Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.
Danish shipping giant Maersk, Switzerland-based MSC and France’s CMA CGM all announced on Tuesday that they would no longer take bookings for goods from Russia and were suspending most deliveries to the country.
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Citing the impact of sanctions, “bookings to and from Russia will be temporarily suspended, with exception of foodstuffs, medical and humanitarian supplies”, Maersk said in a statement.
MSC announced similar measures, saying it would “continue to accept and screen bookings for delivery of essential goods”.
CMA CGM said its “utmost priorities remain to protect our employees and ensure as much as possible the continuity of your supply chain”.
“In the interest of safety, the group has decided to suspend all bookings to and from Russia as of today and until further notice,” it said in a statement posted on its website.
Container shipping companies carry the bulk of the world’s manufactured goods, making them a vital part of the global trade system.
Russia is the world’s eleventh-largest economy and supplier of one-sixth of all commodities and the moves by Maersk, MSC, and CMA CGM mean that Moscow is effectively cut off from a large chunk of the globe’s shipping capacity.
The West has imposed heavy restrictions on Russia to close off its economy from the global financial system, pushing companies to halt sales, cut ties and dump tens of billions of dollars worth of investments.
The aim of the sanctions is to “isolate Russia politically, financially and economically”, Germany’s finance minister Christian Lindner said on Tuesday.
The measures have “already had a massive impact on capital markets and the currency”, he said after a meeting with counterparts from the G7 club of wealthy nations.
Other companies that suspended sales in Russia on Tuesday include Apple, Google, Ford and Harley-Davidson.
Apple said it was “deeply concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine” and announced a pause in sales in Russia and other measures including limiting Apple Pay and dropping the ability to download RT News outside of Russia.
US payment card firms Visa Inc and Mastercard Inc have blocked multiple Russian financial institutions from their network.
Russian authorities have announced a slew of measures designed to stem the fall of the ruble and the broader financial markets, including banning money transfers abroad and closing the Moscow Stock Market.
The ruble has dropped by about 35 percent since last week when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion.