The Russian healthcare system relies on imported medical devices to fill gaps where domestic supply is unavailable. This trend is best observed in tech-heavy device sectors where leading international brands are often imported into Russia for use in private and public facilities. Devices deemed essential to the Russian healthcare system have been exempt from Western export restrictions based on humanitarian need, but nonetheless, the ongoing war in Ukraine has created numerous logistical challenges that will impact their delivery.

The logistics of shipping essential goods such as medical devices into Russia has become an increasingly complex process during the conflict. Many land shipping routes through Russia, Belarus and Ukraine have become too dangerous for operation and have been effectively closed. Freight-forwarding companies have had to redirect shipments through slower and less efficient routes in nearby countries like Serbia, Latvia and Turkey.

Air and maritime cargo channels have also faced setbacks due to safety concerns in the Black Sea, insurance rate hikes, rising fuel costs and airspace restrictions throughout the region. This translates into reduced import volumes, increased costs, and delays to the delivery of many imported goods into Russia, including medical devices. For import-heavy Russian medical device markets such as patient monitoring and diagnostic imaging, GlobalData predicts a market contraction of 54% and 46%, respectively, for this year.

As supply chain issues mount and global device manufacturers limit their activities in the region, Russia has made efforts to stabilise its medical device imports by streamlining regulatory processes to prevent inventory shortages. In early April, the Russian government announced the possibility of a list of medical devices that could become eligible for an expedited registration process. Devices included on this list could be eligible for shortened review timelines and simplified registration dossier requirements, but the proposed device list has not yet been published. Whether this will be sufficient to prevent inventory shortages in the long term is still to be determined.