German shipowners have called for the release of ships, and measures to ensure the safety of seafarers stranded in Ukraine.

“We demand that all ships and their crews be allowed to leave the conflict zone unharmed,” said Gaby Bornheim, president of the German shipowners’ association VDR.

“Russia must respect the freedom of navigation. Uninvolved merchant vessels must not be attacked.”

Bornheim told an annual press briefing yesterday that Ukrainian and Russian seafarers play an important role in Germany’s merchant fleet.