In 2023, Russia decreased of plywood exports into the U.S. by 52%.


German Customs seizes ship carrying Russian plywood for U.S. market

German Customs seizes ship carrying Russian plywood for U.S. market

Image: Atlantic Navigator II offloading Russian plywood at Philadelphia, 2022 © Brian E Kushner / Earthsight

A 23,000-tonne ship, the Atlantic Navigator II, carrying an estimated Euro 40 million worth of Russian plywood, was seized by German Customs at Rostock port due to a sanctions breach. The vessel, en route from St Petersburg to the U.S., according to Earthsight, UK-based environmental NGO.

The Atlantic Navigator II, part of Atlantic Ro-Ro Carriers' fleet, faced mechanical issues, prompting an unplanned stop in Germany, where customs officials acted on information regarding the cargo's origins. Russian timber, a major revenue source for the Russian government, is banned in Europe following the Ukraine invasion. Despite the ban, this trade persists, notably with the US, where no such prohibition exists.

According to Earthsight’s sources, German Customs have placed a ‘hold’ on the ship due to alleged violation of EU sanctions relating to the plywood on board. ARRC’s lawyers argued that the vessel’s cargo should be exempt, because it only docked in Germany due to an emergency. German Customs have rejected that argument, and ARRC is now set to appeal.

In 2023, Russia exported 181 thousand m3 of plywood into the U.S., 52% less than in 2022.