If flag switching helps sustain operations, it may wind up as a standard practice
Ship registries are now feeling the effects of the sanctions. Many Russian vessels are reduced to swapping their flags to other countries’ to sustain operations. Clearly, not everyone in Russia is benefitting from the “special operation”.
Oil tankers and cargo vessels affected
Maritime consultancy Windward Ltd disclosed several Russian-flagged vessels switched their flags to other countries in March 2022, possibly to obscure their dealings with Moscow and avoid being embroiled in sanctions over the Ukraine invasion. A total of 18 ships, including 11 cargo vessels from the same fleet, changed to non-Russian flags in March 2022 – tripled the monthly average for Russian vessels. It was also the first time the figure has hit double digits, based on data going back to January 2020. Other acts include turning off the Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) to evade detection.
Of the 18 vessels, 3 are tankers — 2 transported oil. The 5 that changed flags in March 2022 are linked directly to Russian owners. The remaining were cargo ships owned by a United Arab Emirates company, and all switched flags to the Marshall Islands. 3 vessels changed to Saint Kitts and Nevis flags. Windward’s Product Manager Gur Sender remarked, “Foreign companies have different motivations for moving from the Russian flag; they want their vessels to be able to operate everywhere without restrictions, and in some cases for moral reasons.”
Beneath the façade also lay a few flawed smokescreens, which resulted in this observation. While nations engage in conflict, the industry is left to bleed. If desperate measures are taken for survival, it is another appeal to resolve the differences. Western Sanctions have already resulted in countries imposing sanctions, and businesses’ imposing trade perimeters. Considering the factors involved, businesses do not want to ruffle any feathers, and blind compliance is not a financially-wise option.
Marine Online Media Team
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