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Shipping leaders: Russian seafarers are not the enemy

The Russia-Ukraine situation has affected seafarers, and on an international scale too

With heavy economic sanctions on Russia, the burn of the fallout has been felt by Russian seafarers. As financial transactions are virtually impossible at present, given that many Russian banks were cut out of the international financial messaging system Swift, many Russian seafarers have found themselves unable to receive their pay on time.

True, some have suggested that Russian seafarers be paid in cash. But with seafarers onboard, how will the cash reach their loved ones back home? International money transmitting big names, such as Western Union, PayPal, and Wise, to name a few, have suspended their services in Russia.

Russian seafarers are welcomed in the maritime industry
While the world watches the situation in Ukraine, and more spotlight has been given to Ukrainian seafarers, the maritime industry should keep in mind that Russian seafarers are victims as well. The plea by International Maritime Organization Secretary-General Kitack Lim for the world to have some thought for seafarers so that they do not become collateral damage, applies to Russian seafarers too.

Russian seafarers should not be shunned or treated unfairly and should be supported, says maritime leaders. “It’s really important for us to remember that just because someone is Russian, it doesn’t mean they are pro-war. And these people have families to feed and careers to build on,” Taylor Maritime Chief Executive Edward Buttery opinioned.

Managing Director of AP Moller-Maersk Singapore Rene Piil Pedersen was of the same opinion, “We don’t regard the Russian seafarers as the enemy here. We are more than happy to employ them on board.” But he also acknowledged the challenges in hiring Russian seafarers, with issues of crew change due to lesser vessels stopping over Russian ports and payment of salaries due to financial sanctions.

“We have tremendous respect for the Ukrainian and Russian seafarers. They are very good seafarers. I’m sure the industry will stand by them. We want to see them back on our vessels,” shared Ocean Network Express’ Chief Executive Jeremy Nixon.


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