Russia Sanctions 2

Shippers must do more to prevent Russian sanctions being broken, it was claimed this week, their carriers and logistics partners having to shoulder too much of the responsibility.

Recent weeks have seen a raft of stories on attempts, successful and otherwise, to bypass the more than 16,500 sanctions placed on Russia following its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Daniil Melnychenko, of Odessa-based maritime consultancy Informall BG, told The Loadstar: “Sanctions do work on the big scale, when it concerns large volumes that are easy and visible to detect, but it is the smaller shipments – single units that can be lost in a single container – that are presenting the problems.

“What we are seeing in these recent reports of sanction-busting is that it is shippers that need to be improving their level of due diligence.”

Of particular concern, Mr Melnychenko said, was the surging volumes of EU exports to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan since the onset of the war.

Indeed, over the first 18 months of the conflict, these volumes rose by 80%, despite an absence of similar growth in related local investment.

“Shippers need to be asking to whom they are selling, and seeing if they have ever sold to them before. This is not a significant amount of work for them, but it is a burden they must bear,” said Mr Melnychenko.

“As it stands, it is carriers and logistics partners that bear responsibility for breaching sanctions; the shipper has little to no liability when selling products.”

At the end of last month, Lithuania’s state-owned rail operator, LTG, noted a five-fold increase in the number of attempts shippers had made over the previous three months to send goods into both Belarus and Russia, in breach of sanctions.

Mr Melnychenko said: “Let’s be honest, it is the shippers that allow this to happen. It is almost impossible for them not to realise a sudden huge order for equipment to Kazakhstan, that they’ve never had before, or a single piece to Uzbekistan, is in all likelihood not going to those places.

“These shipments are going there to be forwarded on. We know it happens.”

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