Background

President Biden has issued a proclamation prohibiting Russian-affiliated ships from entering U.S. ports as of 12:01 a.m. EDT on April 28. A Politico article notes that this step “is more symbolic than impactful” because Russian-flagged ships account for less than one percent of cargo arriving at U.S. ports, and a Reuters article adds that “much of the prior Russian ship traffic” to the U.S. carried oil, imports of which the U.S. has already banned.

This prohibition will apply to (1) vessels of Russian registry (i.e., the vessel is Russian-flagged), (2) vessels that are Russian-owned (i.e., the legal title of ownership of the vessel that appears on the ship’s registration documents is the government of Russia or a Russian company, citizen, or permanent resident), and (3) vessels that are Russian-operated (i.e., a Russian company, citizen, or permanent resident is responsible for the commercial decisions concerning the employment of a ship and decides how and where that asset is employed).

The proclamation provides exceptions to this ban for Russian-affiliated vessels (1) used in the transport of source material, special nuclear material, and nuclear byproduct material for which, and for such time as, the U.S. determines that no viable source of supply is available that would not require transport by Russian-affiliated vessels, or (2) requesting to enter U.S. ports only due to force majeure, solely to allow seafarers of any nationality to disembark or embark for purposes of conducting crew changes, emergency medical care, or other humanitarian need.

For more information on the wide range of other trade restrictions the U.S. has imposed on Russia, please contact Kristine Pirnia at (202) 730-4964 or via email.

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