Dhe war in the Ukraine harbors further imponderables for shipping, which is already extremely strained. The shipowners support the additional sanctions decided by the EU against Russia, emphasizes Gaby Bornheim, President of the German Shipowners’ Association (VDR): “The ongoing attacks by the Russian army and the atrocities that have now become known have made such a response necessary. “
But Bornheim also clearly points out new risks that go beyond material losses: “Our main concern is our seafarers,” she explains – because countermeasures by the Russian side are to be feared. “There is a risk that our ships will be tied up in Russian ports. We appeal to all sides not to allow seafarers and civilian merchant ships to become a bargaining chip in this conflict.”
The reason for this appeal by the VDR President are incidents that existed before the sanctions were extended, especially when Ukrainian personnel were on board. “We have credible reports that seafarers have been disembarked and interrogated. Some of them were even detained,” a spokesman for the shipowners’ association told the FAZ: “That’s why we have urgently warned our members not to call at Russian ports if they are traveling with Ukrainians.” Since the outbreak of the war, however, significantly fewer ships have been heading in that direction Russia on the way: “Hardly any container shipping company goes to Russia.” In some cases, however, charter shipping companies are forced to fulfill their contracts and therefore call at Russian ports.
Russian ships are no longer allowed to enter
According to the new EU sanctions against Russia, ships flying the Russian flag are no longer allowed to call at European seaports. “This affects Russian shipping companies, ship operators and shareholders. We support the ban on calling at sea,” confirms Daniel Hosseus, General Manager of the Central Association of German Seaport Companies – and in the next sentence he points out that sea traffic between Russia and Germany is mainly handled by non-Russian ships.
The German seaports recorded only 365 arrivals of ships flying the Russian flag last year – of a total of almost 107,000 ship arrivals, that is about 0.3 percent. The handling of sea freight with goods to and from Russia makes up a significant part of the business in the German ports: 9 percent of the total handling. Two-thirds of this is accounted for by imports of coal, oil and petroleum products from Russia.
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