Ukrainian seafarers are free to leave the country as it works on exporting millions of tonnes of grain previously kept in ports by Russia’s naval blockade.

On Friday, the cabinet adopted the resolution “On Amendments to the Rules for Crossing the State Border by Citizens of Ukraine”.

This was initiated by the Ministry of Infrastructure, overturning the ban on all males aged between 18 and 60 leaving Ukraine.

Certain groups will now be allowed to travel outside the country during martial law, the Odessa Journal reported.

The government said these include crews of ships involved in the export of Ukrainian agricultural products during implementation of the initiative on safe transportation through the Black Sea.

Cadets who have undergone practical training on ships will be free to leave.

Industry groups have long been lobbying for an exemption for Ukrainian maritime workers.

Ukraine’s Maritime Bulletin argued that the new decree in effect excludes Ukrainian seafarers from obligatory nationwide mobilisation and the ban on leaving the country.

The government is said to understand the necessity of keeping Ukrainian crew members at the top of their profession and the importance of the cash they bring to the country.

Last month, TradeWinds reported dozens of ships could remain stuck in Ukraine’s ports because of seafarer shortages even after a deal was struck with Russia to restart grain exports.

Danica warning

Henrik Jensen, the owner of Eastern Europe crew manager specialist Danica Maritime, warned that overseas replacements would be unwilling to travel to a war zone following missile strikes by Russian forces on the port city of Odesa.

“To get the ships moving again, we need the Ukrainian government to open up the seafarers to leave the country,” said Jensen, whose Germany-based company has 1,200 Ukrainians on its books.

“The Ukrainians are ready to fill these ships as soon as they give the green light.”

The flag of Ukraine. A survey of 100 organisations involved in supporting Ukrainian seafarers said hardship grants were among their top priorities. Photo: UP9/Creative Commons 3.0