Baltics might close their ports to Russian ships

If the European Union (EU) does not agree on the closure of ports for Russian vessels, the Baltic States could take that decision separately, said Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits on Latvian Television on March 21.

In that case, the ban would apply to ships under the Russian flag. Such ships rarely enter Latvian ports, since mainly ships registered in offshore jurisdictions are used to transport Russian cargo. The ban on Russian ships entering EU ports was discussed by the Member States last week, but no agreement was reached. If the discussions are also without result this week, the Baltic States plan to extend the ban to at least their own ports.

"The best solution, of course, would be that this would be introduced at the same time throughout the European Union in order to avoid any distortion of internal European market competition. Work on this will continue," Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said at a briefing after the coalition meeting on Monday. 

The manager of the Free Port of Riga said that last year, of 3,500 ships entering the port, only about 100 of the ships were under the Russian flag. These are mainly small ships carrying cargo within the Baltic Sea or the North Sea.

Also the Ventspils Freeport said that ships with the Russian flag are rarely served. No such ships have entered the port since the war began. At the same time, most of the cargo in the port comes from Russia.

“In the event of loss of these transit goods, Ventspils could lose up to two-thirds of all cargo and consequently a large part of the revenue needed to maintain the port infrastructure,” said Inga Ieviņa, representative of the Ventspils Freeport.

 

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