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Where do Russia’s sanctioned vessels continue to trade?

More Data Storytelling

Since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the United States has directly sanctioned nearly 170 Russia-linked cargo-carrying vessels

Analysis of Lloyd’s List Intelligence data shows how ships have been redeployed to continue trading, while others maintain regular voyages, revealing the limits of US sanctions programmes.

The US Treasury sanctioned 67 ships in both 2022 and 2023 and kicked off 2024 by listing a further 35.

The rationale for sanctions range from targeting ships linked to financial institutions; to those helping Russia evade sanctions; involvement in Russia’s Ministry of Defence operations; and others that more broadly support Russia in its ability to wage war on Ukraine.

Some 14 Sovcomflot-owned crude oil tankers were designated during the most recent round of sanctions, on the second anniversary of the beginning of the war.

An additional three ships were targeted at the same time for connections to companies involved in facilitating arms transfers with Iran’s Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics.

Like vessels before them, the introduction of sanctions has seen several ships retreat to the Black Sea.

Of those Sovcomflot tankers sanctioned most recently, four have sailed for the Black Sea and all have stopped transmitting Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals, Lloyd’s List Intelligence data shows.

Panama-flagged crude tanker Anatoly Kolodkin, for example, was sailing for Ust-Luga at the time it was designated.

Shortly after it was blacklisted, the ship U-turned and began signalling its destination as Novorossiysk. Anatoly Kolodkin changed course again to stop for several days at Alger anchorage.



The vessel then reached the Black Sea on March 14, signalling “Black Sea for order”. No AIS data had been received for the vessel since this date. Prior to this, the last time the ship entered the Black Sea was in 2018.

The vast majority of Sovcomflot’s newly sanctioned ships have continued to trade normally.

There are two tankers in the vicinity of South Korea’s Yeosu anchorage, a popular spot for Russia-owned tankers loading non price cap-compliant crude.

Others, such as Gabon-flagged tankers NS Consul and NS Burgas, have already called at a Chinese port since being blacklisted.

India is also receiving sanctioned ships. Crude oil tanker Georgy Maslov called at the Indian subport Jamnagar on March 7, while NS Columbus called at Vadinar anchorage from April 4 to April 5. AIS suggests the vessel unloaded during this period as the draught input was changed from 14.7 metres to 8.1 m.

This is despite reports that refiners in India are no longer accepting cargoes carried on Sovcomflot vessels.

India is the second-largest importer of Russian oil after China since Western import bans were imposed.

While many of the latest sanctioned ships are sailing typical routes, analysis of other blacklisted ships shows that sanctions implementation has limited potential trading partners.

In 2021, ships that are now sanctioned called at more than 100 non-Russian ports, including those in the EU and the US. Last year, sanctioned ships were welcome in just 24 foreign markets.

Still, in 2023 and so far this year, arrivals into foreign ports accounted for 14% of traceable callings.

Türkiye, Iran, India and Egypt have been the most common destinations for sanctioned ships.



Since 2022, 13 different sanctioned Russian ships have made 32 calls to Egypt.

Of these vessels, 11 are sanctioned for links to companies that perform various services for Russia’s Ministry of Defence, including transporting military equipment and weaponry.

These ships accounted for 29 of the 32 calls to Egypt. The vessels often call to either El Iskandariya (Alexandria) or El Dekheila from Novorossiysk.



One ro-ro, Ascalon, had berthed at the military terminal in Alexandria. Draught data suggests the vessel unloaded cargo on this voyage.

Lloyd’s List Intelligence vessel-tracking data shows Russia’s blacklisted ships largely avoid European markets.

The EU has not directly targeted any vessel in its sanctions programmes, but it has prohibited the entry of Russian-flagged ships to its ports. There are several exemptions to this rule, including for the import of agricultural products.



Sanctioned Russia-flagged ships have made several calls to Italy over the past year.

The 8,145 dwt general cargoship Pola Pelagia first arrived in the Adriatic port of Bari in March 2023, having loaded at a grain terminal in Kavkaz.

The ship called at Bari again on March 29. This is Pola Pelagia’s third foreign port call in a year, having largely been supporting Russia’s local Sea of Azov trade.

Russia-flagged general cargoship Aleksandr Sokolov is the second sanctioned ship to berth at an Italian port. It arrived at Salerno on March 8, 2024, having called at the grain terminal in Kavkaz.

While sanctioned ships are used to facilitate international trade, they are largely redeployed to support local trade. In 2023, Russia’s blacklisted ships were most active in the north of the country, ferrying goods between ports such as Kaliningrad, St. Petersburg and Ust-Luga.

The Arctic was the second-most popular region for sanctioned ships, followed closely by the Sea of Azov.


This article is based on data available in Lloyd’s List Intelligence’s Seasearcher Advanced Risk & Compliance. To find out more and to request a demonstration, follow the link below.

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