Ukrainian port cities bear the brunt of Putin’s invading forces

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which lasted almost a month, recorded enormous damage to maritime infrastructure, which will take years to repair.

The battle for the southern port city of Mariupol has intensified in the past 48 hours, with street-by-street warfare reported in the city center, leaving many casualties and the city in ruins.

The Russians are poised to take control of Mariupol and with it key sea access as they attempt to build a land bridge between Russia and Crimea. They already control the port of Berdyansk, about 30 km southwest on the Sea of ​​Azov, where five foreign-flagged bulk carriers loaded with grain have been evacuated from the port by Russian tugs in recent days, making way for warships to Enter.

In Odessa, residents continue to prepare the city, home to Ukraine’s largest port, for any naval assault.

In the first month of the war, five merchant ships were hit by artillery and one sailor lost his life.

With increasing sanctions in place and many mines planted in the region, maritime traffic in the Black Sea has decreased significantly, especially for container ships (see graph at the bottom of this article).

The container transport aspect of the Ukraine invasion must also take into account the sudden drop in boxes transported by rail from Asia to Europe via Russia. Bloomberg reports that more than a million containers originally destined for transcontinental rail transit must now find new routes by sea.

“Capacity absorbed by growing congestion at European hubs and rail-to-ocean conversions caused by the war have not halted the fall in rates,” commented Judah Levine, head of research at Freightos, on freight rates. containerized Asia-Europe, which are now at their level. lowest levels since last July.

More than a million containers originally destined for transcontinental rail transit must now find new routes by sea

The trade blockade movement against Russia is growing. Lithuania has said it is ready to close its Klaipėda seaport to Russian ships, but it is still coordinating the move with neighboring countries.

Ideally, it should be an EU-wide decision that would eliminate “all possibilities for arbitration”, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said yesterday.

Transport ministers from Lithuania and other neighboring countries are considering turning to the European Commission on the issue, according to Šimonytė.

“If there is no decision, no clearer movement, I think we will continue to coordinate this between us,” she added.

Over the weekend, Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s prime minister since 2017, called for tougher sanctions on Moscow and called on the European Union to impose a total ban on trade with Russia.

“Poland proposes to add a trade blockade to this set of sanctions as soon as possible, both for seaports – a ban on entering Russian-flagged vessels with Russian goods – but also a ban on land trade “, said Morawiecki during a press conference.

After coming under heavy pressure, France’s TotalEnergies finally gave in yesterday, joining bp, Shell and Equinor in cutting ties with Russia. TotalEnergies announced yesterday that it has initiated the gradual suspension of its activities in Russia, putting on hold its commercial developments for batteries and lubricants in Russia and no longer providing capital for the development of projects in Russia, including the Arctic LNG 2 project.

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