Ukraine, Romania agree to review Danube canal depths to boost grain exports Ship’s crew


By Pavel Polityuk

KIEV, March 9 (Reuters) – Ukraine and Romania have agreed to review the depth of canals upstream of the Danube River, which Kiev uses to export agricultural goods, in a bid to try to increase traffic flow, Ukraine’s Restoration Ministry said on Thursday with

The Danube is a key transport route for Ukraine as it tries to export grain and other products after Russia’s massive invasion a year ago, despite Moscow lifting a blockade of three Ukrainian Black Sea ports last July.

Romania said last month it was concerned about signs Ukraine was dredging the Bystre Canal, which cuts through a shared, environmentally sensitive coastal region, and asked if it could verify the site.

Ukraine has denied breaching any agreements by deepening the canal and has said it is ready to show Romania, a member of the European Union and the NATO military alliance, the work it is doing.

Kyiv said representatives of Ukraine, Romania and the European Commission, the EU executive, held talks on coordinating efforts to improve and develop export capacities through Ukraine’s and Romania’s Danube canals.

“(We) have agreed to conduct depth soundings on the Danube and coordinate more efficient pilotage services to increase deliveries,” the Restoration Ministry wrote on Twitter.

Ukraine said last month that the draft of ships passing through the Bystre Canal has deepened from 3.9 meters to 6.5 meters.

Ukraine transports grain on the Bystre Canal while developing alternative routes for its exports after the Russian invasion.

The Black Sea Grains Initiative brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last July, allowing Ukraine to export grain through three Black Sea ports, was extended in November.

It will be extended on March 18 if neither party objects, but Russia has signaled it is unhappy with some aspects of the deal and the Kremlin said Thursday there were “many questions” remaining.

The EU also proposed a “Solidarity Routes” initiative last May to streamline and prioritize the movement of grain across Ukraine’s western borders.

(Edit by Timothy Heritage)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023.

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