Russia’s movers adapt as conflict sanctions hit

Russia-based movers are negotiating ‘difficult times’ caused by the conflict in Ukraine and associated international sanctions, according to FIDI’s Russian Affiliates, and Affiliates operating out of the country.   

Shipments out of Russia and Belarus – and limited inbound movements – are still possible, but Swift payments and transfers have been stopped indefinitely, forcing firms to restructure payment systems. Logistics is extremely problematic, with trucking price increases of up to 400 per cent, according to one report; shortages of Ukrainian drivers; restrictions on the movement of Russian trucks; and a near-stop on air transport between Russia and most NATO countries.  

Dutch-Affiliate Voerman, which has a large moving and logistics company in Russia, said it had received more than 300 move initiations within a five-day period and more than 100 departure services requests.

The company’s Partner Relations Manager, Pauline Collins, said: ‘We are also starting to manage more and more properties in Moscow for international staff who are leaving the country. We anticipate additional requests from corporate clients who will want to relocate Russian staff to European countries, especially from the tech and retail sector. This was already ongoing in Ukraine.’

She added that the company planned to keep its own expat workers in the country for ‘as long as possible’.

Runar Nilsen, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Santa Fe Relocation, said the company was also experiencing ‘high activity’ moving clients out of Russia, adding that this was ‘increasingly challenging due to the situation, limited flights, rapidly increasing prices and limited transport capacity, putting extra challenges to the burden for our Russian colleagues.’

Country Director for Voerman Moscow, Dennis van Diemen, said: ‘These are very difficult times where there are changes daily and even by the hour. We are trying to help everybody who wants to relocate in the best possible way and give them the right information.’

Nilsen added that, like other Affiliates, Santa Fe had adjusted the way it pays its suppliers, leveraging its international structure to avoid potential difficulties. ‘To be able to help our customers wanting to leave Russia these days, we have arranged payment of our international external partners from Europe, to avoid problems dealing with banks in Russia.’

Collins said the company was now facilitating invoices to Voerman Russia through its Dutch business.

According to other Affiliates with Russian businesses, getting money into the company to pay salaries and fund local operations remains a significant issue, requiring the use of reserve funds or other means.

The ongoing Ukraine conflict is also having a considerable cultural impact, according to Collins. ‘We have Russian staff, we have Ukrainian staff, we have Polish, Czech and other Eastern European staff. The view on what’s going on differs massively depending on who you talk to,’ she said. ‘It is important to balance this… we have children and family members of our staff fighting on the Russian side and on the Ukrainian side at the moment.’

Photo by Дмитрий Трепольский from Pexels

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