UK asks ports to block Russian ships, including any vessels connected with Russia

Business Insider US

The yacht 'Graceful' of Russian President Vladimir Putin is moored at the port of Sochi, Russia, 13 July 2015.
Marcus Brandt/picture alliance via Getty Images
  • The UK has asked port operators to not allow ships connected with Russia to dock.
  • The broad request covers both commercial and private vessels.
  • Transportation secretary Grant Shapps said stiffer "prohibiting legislation" is in the works.
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The UK government has asked all port operators under its jurisdiction to block all Russian ships from docking as sanctions escalate in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. "In these circumstances the Department for Transport does not consider it appropriate for Russian vessels to continue to enter UK ports," Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps wrote in a memo released on Monday.

The broad request covers both commercial vessels, such as oil tankers, as well as the private yachts owned by Russian billionaire oligarchs.

Specifically the memo refers to ships registered in Russia, flying the Russian flag, or "owned, controlled, chartered, or operated by any person connected with Russia."

"We will seek to support UK ports in identifying Russian ships within scope of the above, and will communicate directly with relevant ports when we identify ships bound for UK ports who fall within scope of the above," the memo said.

In a tweet, Shapps said that "prohibiting legislation" was in the works, which would give the action a stronger legal footing.

The move by the Department for Transport comes amid growing calls for the UK to sanction Russian oil tankers, including the NS Champion, which is owned by Russian shipping company Sovcomflot and was scheduled to arrive in Scotland on Tuesday.

Prior to the request, an Orkney Islands Council spokesperson told the Guardian that the port there would be compelled to accept Russian ships "until such a time as the UK government tells us otherwise."

A ban on Russian-owned vessels would add to the UK's — and now the EU's — prohibition on all Russian airlines and planes from operating in their airspace.

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