Ukraine must be ready to export mainly through Danube ports Ship’s crew

KIEV, June 27 (Reuters) – Ukraine must be prepared to export grain almost exclusively through its Danube ports as Russia effectively blocks Black Sea shipments, Ukraine’s seaports authority said on Tuesday.

The United Nations and Turkey brokered an agreement between Moscow and Kiev last July for the safe passage of grain from the Black Sea, to help address a global food crisis exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of the neighboring country and a blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports became.

Moscow has threatened not to extend the deal beyond July 18 unless a number of demands are met, including removing barriers to Russian grain and fertilizer exports. It says promises to help with these exports have not been kept.

“Since Russia is effectively blocking the operation of the grain corridor, we must be ready to receive almost the entire export volume of the new crop through the Danube ports,” Dmytro Barinov, deputy head of Ukraine’s seaports authority, said on Facebook.

Ukraine is a major grain producer and exporter, but production has fallen sharply since Russia’s all-out invasion in February 2022.

With a functioning grain corridor, about half of its agricultural exports are shipped through Black Sea ports, a quarter through its Danube ports, and a quarter through its western border.

ROMANIAN TRANSIT

The Seaports Authority said this month that three Ukrainian Danube ports exported a record 3 million tons of food in May.

Ukrainian transport officials say export volumes could be higher if the Bystre Canal on the Danube is deepened. A senior Ukrainian official said last month that Kiev plans to start deepening the canal as early as this year.

Ukrainian officials said transit via Romanian territory to the Black Sea port of Constanta will also be crucial if Russia pulls out of the Black Sea Grains Agreement.

Constanta has handled about a third of Ukraine’s grain exports since the Russian invasion, but Romanian officials are considering measures to give local farmers priority access to Constanta during the harvest season.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said he had told his Romanian counterpart the two countries could triple transit “by developing border crossing points, ferry crossings and sea and river ports”.

He said on the news app Telegram that he had proposed steps at government level, including “the introduction of a joint customs control, the exchange of databases and other measures”.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Timothy Heritage Editor)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023.

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