Visa restrictions and restrictions on freedom of movement to/from the ship
Russian seafarers occupy an important place in the maritime industry: according to the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), they make up about 10.5% of the total number of merchant marine workers worldwide – more than 71,000 Officers and 126,000 Ratings. Of these, about 30 thousand work on the vessels of European shipping companies. Their work is an important contribution to the smooth functioning of supply chain. Today, it is at risk due to EU sanctions against Russian citizens: Russian seafarers encounter problems getting their wages while new visa restrictions challenge their ability to travel freely to embark on vessels in Europe and threaten another round of crew change crisis.
At the moment, there is a stalemate: due to the introduction of visa restrictions for Russian citizens, the very possibility of free transit of Russian seafarers to Europe to join vessels of the European shipowners has been extremely questionable. Since the beginning of a special combat operation in Ukraine, direct flights with European countries have been reduced to a minimum, and with many of them have been cancelled altogether. In recent months, land borders have become the main route for seafarers to reach the EU states: for seafarers from St. Petersburg – through Finland, Estonia and Latvia, from Murmansk – through Norway, from Kaliningrad – through Poland and Lithuania. However, since 19 September, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland have closed entry for Russian citizens with tourist visas. On 23 September, they were followed by Finland.