One of the world’s biggest flag states is ratcheting up the pressure on a Russian insurer in the wake of the UK’s decision to impose sanctions on the organisation.

The Liberian registry has barred ships holding an Ingosstrakh-issued “blue card” that verifies a vessel’s coverage for pollution damage from oil spills and other hazardous waste and is a vital document allowing entry to ports.

The move was detailed in a circular to shipowners issued from its US office after Britain published sanctions targeting 48 entities linked to Russia, including Ingosstrakh and six ships.

Liberian-flagged vessels with blue cards issued by Ingosstrakh have been given a 90-day grace period to obtain new cover from one of the 12-strong International Group of P&I Clubs or one of 13 other approved providers.

The potential impact of the move remains uncertain and it is not clear if other flag states will follow Liberia’s lead. It is exposed to sanctions decisions by G7 countries owing to its office in the US.

Liberia’s decision is likely to have limited immediate impact on Ingosstrakh as only three ships have cover provided by the insurer and none of them are tankers, Bloomberg reported, citing data from the International Maritime Organization.

Ingosstrakh has said that it will challenge the UK’s move and said it could take legal action. It says it complies with all legal demands and follows all compliance procedures.

Reports suggest that the European Union has also mulled targeting Ingosstrakh, but the bloc is yet to publish its latest round of measures.

The scale of Ingosstrakh coverage is unclear, with industry sources saying that the insurer’s entry requirements were as tough, or tougher, than many Western providers.

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