EU country bans Russian ships — Analysis

Bulgaria, following Italy and Romania’s lead, has banned Russian vessels from entering its ports.

Bulgaria banned Russian-flagged vessels from its ports on Sunday, one day after Italians and Romanian authorities followed suit. The bans, which are in line with the EU’s latest round of anti-Russia sanctions, also apply to Russian ships that changed their registration after Russia launched its offensive in Ukraine.

“All vessels registered under Russian flag, as well as all vessels that have switched their Russian flag, or flag or maritime register registration to any other state whatsoever after Feb. 24, are forbidden access to Bulgarian maritime and river ports,” read a notice on the website of the country’s maritime administration, dated Thursday.

Russian ships are also barred from Italy and Romania ports as of Sunday. The statements of both nations on Saturday were identical to the Bulgarian one. Other countries implemented bans earlier, with Ireland announcing its own port closure last Monday, and the UK – which is not in the EU – banning Russian shipping in early March.

Ukraine accused of seizing foreign ships

The closure of all EU ports to Russian ships was stipulated in the bloc’s latest round of sanctions against Russia announced earlier this month. Ships in distress, seeking humanitarian aid, and vessels transporting food or energy to the EU will all be exempt from the ban.

Russian aircraft have been barred from European airspace since February. Russia responded by closing its airspace to EU planes.

Ursula von der Leyen (President of European Commission) said that EU officials are currently planning a sixth round to sanction Russia. She said that the new penalties would target Russia’s banking sector and may include restrictions on the import of Russian oil.

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