Vessels and UK Sanctions: Trade with Russia Analysis


What’s inside?

    The UK government strengthened its sanctions legislation against Russia on March 15, including the targeting of more than 50 oligarchs and their families with a combined net worth of £100bn, according to The Guardian.

    The UK denied Russia and Belarus access to “most favored nation” tariffs for hundreds of their exports and stated that £900m-worth of goods would be subject to significant tariffs. Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee said in March that these moves were only a “first step.” 

    Additional steps (or better maritime monitoring) may still be necessary, as it appears that vessels may be finding a way around UK sanctions. 

    Windward’s proprietary, AI-driven insights reveal that there are still commercial vessels arriving in the UK after calling port in Russia. In January 2022, a daily average of 1.6 commercial ships made this voyage. In March, that average did not fall very far – it was still at 1.06 commercial vessels daily

    The reverse voyage shows similar results. In January, a daily average of 1.6 commercial ships called port in the UK and then eventually arrived in Russia. That number was only slightly reduced to 1.4 in March

    Voyages between Russia UK
    # of commercial vessels arriving in the UK after calling port in Russia (and vice versa) from Jan-early April, 2022

    Note the spike of commercial vessels calling port in the UK and eventually arriving in Russia in March, after the invasion had started. 

    To be clear, sanctions from various governments have had a major effect on Russia, as evidenced by this quote in The Washington Post in mid-March: 

    “All of this already is having an impact on the Russian economy,” said Jeff Schott, who tracks sanctions and trade for the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “The ruble has fallen through the floor. Interest rates are high. Inflation is soaring. Imported goods are basically hard to find and are not being restocked because nobody is selling to Russia for fear that they will not get paid — or only paid in rubles.”

    The UK’s sanctions have been among the more severe and they were ratcheted up again in early April. This includes a full asset freeze on the country’s largest bank, Sberbank, and an end to all new British outward investment into Russia. Just yesterday, Reuters reported that Britain imposed new sanctions on 206 individuals in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including 178 who it said were involved in propping up Russian-backed breakaway regions of Ukraine.

    To close loopholes and ensure maximum effect of trade restrictions, a Maritime AI system can help identify commercial vessels containing prohibited cargo in real time. 

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