Berliner Tageszeitung - Protesters urge closure of Panama Canal to Russian ships

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Protesters urge closure of Panama Canal to Russian ships




Protesters urge closure of Panama Canal to Russian ships
Protesters urge closure of Panama Canal to Russian ships / Foto: © AFP

A small group of protesters urged the Panamanian government Wednesday to close the Panama Canal to Russian ships as punishment for the invasion of Ukraine.

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The move would be symbolic at best because very few Russian vessels actually use the waterway linking the Atlantic and Pacific.

Under a 1977 treaty in which the US-built canal was handed over to local control, the waterway is supposed to remain neutral in the event of international conflict.

A mixed group of about 50 Ukrainians and Russians opposed to the war demonstrated Wednesday near the canal. They signed a letter to Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo seeking sanctions against Russia.

"We urge the Panamanian people and you as their leader to consider closing the Panama Canal to Russian commercial and military ships until the war ends and all invading troops have returned to their country," the letter says.

A total of 3.5 percent of the world's maritime trade passes through the canal, according to government figures. The top user is the United States with 72.5 percent of all freight making its way through the water way. Russia is not on the list of the top 15 users.

Y. Rousseau--BTZ