Russia sanctions lead to record volume of shipping containers in Muuga

Containers at Muuga, a port to the east of Tallinn.
Containers at Muuga, a port to the east of Tallinn. Source: Jaan Kronberg/HHLA TK Estonia

A record amount of empty shipping containers have accumulated in the port of Muuga, just east of Tallinn, the result of sanctions placed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

Andres Uusoja, board member at HHLA  TK Estonia, which operates a terminal in Muuga, told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Monday that: "We have a record number of containers at, almost 17,000. As to space - let's just say, by being very resourceful, maybe almost 20,000 could be fitted in at the same time, but this cannot be stretched further."

Most of the containers are empty and result from shipping companies evacuating activities in Russian ports in the wake of that country's invasion of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Economic Affairs says it is preparing support measures for affected transit companies; sanctions issued on vessels sailing under the Russian flag – since mid-April these have not been able to enter EU ports – inflows of Russian cargo have all but halted, across the union and not just in Estonia.

Of greater impact so far as Estonia alone goes is the bar on Russian products, rather than Russian vessels – of around 10,000 vessels per year calling in at Estonian ports, only a fraction of these – around 340 – sail under the Russian flag.

At peak times, Muuga on its own will host around 12,000 containers, brought in by cargo vessel.

Jaak Viilipus, head of the economic affairs ministry's maritime economy department, told AK that: "If we are talking about the volume of cargo that passes through Estonian ports, it comes to about 39 million tons a year."

"Of this, about 21 million are transit, mainly from Russia and Belarus," Viilipus went on.

"Right now, sanctions on crude oil products are under consideration for the sixth round of sanctions, and these are already impacting significantly," he added, noting that the situation is constantly changing and more analysis of the effects of sanctions will be looked at once the latest round has been rolled-out.

Andres Uusoja said the crisis has created a situation whereby shipping lines have to review their entire logistics supply chain and transport the containers to locations reasonable for their storage.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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