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Many more Russian-flagged vessels than usual switched their flags to other countries in March, possibly to conceal their ties to Moscow and avoid being caught up in sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine, according to maritime consultancy Windward Ltd.

A total of 18 ships, including 11 cargo vessels from the same fleet, changed to non-Russian flags last month, Tel Aviv-based Windward said. That’s more than three times the monthly average for Russian vessels. It’s also the first time the figure has hit double digits, based on data going back to January 2020.

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