On Feb. 16, the Joint War Committee, made up of London marine insurers, convened a special meeting to assess tensions between Russia and Ukraine, and deemed the Black and Azov Seas high risk.

Neil Roberts, head of marine and aviation for Lloyd’s Market Association, which represents insurance companies, told Reuters on Feb. 16 that adding the seas to the high risk list was “a precautionary notification so that insurers and shipowners will be able to properly negotiate their exposure as it develops.”

The sanctions issued in an executive order by US president Joe Biden on Feb. 21 may also result in prohibiting ships from calling at the port of Mariupol, according to legal advice provided to marine insurance provider West of England.

According to Luke Coffey of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation think tank, control of the Azov Sea is vital for Russia’s resupply of troops in Crimea, as well as its longer-term strategy for the Black Sea.

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