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Japanese carmakers, airlines cut Russia ties amid war in Ukraine

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Top Japanese carmakers have halted exports to Russia and Japanese airlines suspended flights to Europe, as more firms in the Asian country suspend operations in response to the war in Ukraine.

Toyota, the world’s top-selling carmaker, said on Thursday it would halt exports to Russia and production in the country as Western-led sanctions against Moscow scrambled logistics and severed supply chains.

The move comes after local rivals Honda and Mazda announced a halt of exports to Russia, citing similar difficulties in procuring parts and logistical hurdles.

Mitsubishi said it may suspend production and sales in Russia, while Nissan said it will continue operations in the country while monitoring the situation there.

“Toyota is watching the ongoing developments in Ukraine with great concern for the safety of people of Ukraine and hopes for a safe return to peace as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement.

Toyota is Russia’s top Japanese brand, producing about 80,000 vehicles at its St. Petersburg plant, which employs 2,000 staff.

Meanwhile, Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings said they would cancel all flights to and from Europe on Thursday, citing safety concerns amid heavy fighting in Ukraine.

The airlines, which normally use Russian airspace for their Europe flights, join a growing number of carriers that have cancelled or rerouted flights between Europe and northern Asia in the wake of the crisis.

ANA Cargo’s website said the suspension of flights was due to the “high possibility of its operations not being able to overfly Russia due to the current Ukraine situation.”

Brands distancing themselves from Russia

Japanese airlines have not been banned from Russian airspace, unlike carriers from Canada and the European Union, which Moscow has barred in retaliation for flight bans against it. The United States has also banned Russian flights from its skies.

While dozens of Western brands, including Apple, Amazon, H&M and Nike have taken steps to distance themselves from Russia like halting sales, major firms in Asia have been largely muted in the crisis.

Japan, a close US ally, has launched the strongest response against Moscow among governments in the region, most of which have declined to assign blame for the crisis. Besides Japan, only South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan have announced measures against Moscow.

Tokyo has announced a raft of sanctions since Russian President Vladimir Putin last week ordered a full-scale military assault against Ukraine, including measures targeting Russia’s central bank and the country’s access to the SWIFT international payments system.

Russia has continued what it calls a “special operation” in Ukraine despite condemnation by the United Nations in a historic vote and dozens of countries referring Moscow to be investigated for potential war crimes.

© 2022, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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