The world is putting pressure on the Russian economy from different sides. USA, Canada and the EU countries have imposed a number of sanctions against certain high-ranking officials, companies and banks. More than 30 countries have closed their airspace to Russian planes. Taking into account recent acts of terrorism and piracy in the Black Sea, the same fate awaits Russian ships.
In the two weeks of full-scale war, the Russian navy has:
– occupied Ukraine’s Zmiinyi Island, captured 13 Ukrainian border guards, and seized the civilian rescue ship ‘Sapfir’ near the island;
– fired at three foreign ships – flying the flags of Panama, Bangladesh, and Moldova – near Ukrainian ports. The latter was carrying 600 tons of diesel fuel, which could lead to an environmental catastrophe in the event of an oil spill;
– sunk a cargo ship belonging to the Estonian company Helt, near Odessa;
– seized two Ukrainian ships with civilian crews in Romanian territorial waters.
Russia was involved in maritime terrorism even before the invasion of Ukraine. In 2018, under the temporary occupation of Crimea, Russian border guards seized three Ukrainian ships in the Kerch strait and arrested 24 sailors. After the subsequent EU and US sanctions against Russia, Ukraine managed to get them back. And just before the full-scale war, from 13 to 19 February 2022, Russia announced that it would engage in so-called exercises in the Azov Sea and the Black Sea, endangering civilian ships sailing on these routes.
Turkey was the first country to act in response to apparent violations of international maritime law, closing the Bosphorus and Dardanelles to Russian naval vessels. The UK and Canadian governments have decided to block Russian ships from entering their ports. Cyprus has refused to allow five Russian ships to dock during a scheduled visit to the port of Limassol.
EU member states have not yet closed their ports to Russian ships, but this restriction will be included in the next package of sanctions. This would have a significant impact on the Russian economy. Around 29 Russian ships have docked in Rotterdam alone this year, while up to 20 have docked in Klaipeda, Lithuania. The EU has more than 1,200 ports.
Closing a port to the Russian aggressor today means bringing the world closer to security and peace.
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