Very little sea ice is in the Barents region for this time of year. This indicates that this trend will continue and sailing will become easier by every year.
Satellite images show that the waters north of Spitsbergen and north of Novaya Zemlya is not covered with ice, which is unusual for this time of year.
A NSIDC map from 9th of January clearly shows how little ice is in the area. The Kara gate and the Pechora Sea in the eastern Barents Sea are both usually ice-covered this time of the year, but not now.
The entire west coast of Novaya Zemlya is also ice-free.