The impact of these measures is something that the shipping community is still trying to work through. One might have expected that the raft of sanctions and embargoes would have provided certainty and clarity – for example, by making clear that all trade with Russia was out of bounds. Instead, the opposite is the case - nearly three weeks into this ever-evolving situation there is a great amount of confusion as to what is and is not permitted, which is leading to significant debate, disputes and stand-offs (and in due course litigation) between commercial parties.
Shipping companies, insurers, classification societies, along with many other international businesses nervous of reputational damage have taken the decision to "self-sanction" leading to the wind down of any of their dealings connected with Russia, in many cases, even where their specific trading activity with Russia is still permitted.
While international alliance in the form of the Transatlantic Task Force announced in recent days between the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States has brought a welcome sense of cohesion and alignment on specific policies (such as the removal of certain Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging service), the raft of new sanctions legislation being enacted internationally, including by the UK, EU and US, varies greatly between sovereign states both in scope and application albeit with a certain degree of overlap.
Below is a snapshot of the issues and concerns we have seen in recent days: