Last update: August 13, 2022 23:26

Newsroom logo

Ukraine Reroutes Grain Exports Through Poland and Romania

By Vusala Abbasova June 13, 2022

None

Ukraine’s Black Sea ports have been blocked since Russia launched what it called a "special military operation” on February 24, trapping millions of tonnes of grain in silos in the country.

Kyiv is set to export grain stuck in silos in the country via two routes established through Poland and Romania, said Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister Dmytro Senik.

In an interview with Reuters on Sunday, Senik said that there were some 30 million tonnes of grain stored in the Ukrainian-held territory, which it is trying to export via road, river and rail.

"Those routes are not perfect because it creates certain bottlenecks, but we are doing our best to develop those routes in the meantime," Senik said on the sidelines of the IISS Asia Security Summit in Singapore called Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD).

He went further to say that Ukraine was in talks with Baltic states to add a third corridor for food exports. Yet, details on how much grain has already moved or would be moved through these routes have not been disclosed.

Senik also accused Russia of exacerbating already dire world food insecurity, with price and supply shocks caused by its invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Black Sea ports have been blocked since Russia launched what it called a "special military operation” on February 24, trapping millions of tonnes of grain in silos in the country.

Ukraine referred to as the “breadbasket of Europe” is a top grain supplier to dozens of developing countries. Last year, Ukraine's grain export totaled $12.2 billion, accounting for nearly a fifth of the country's exports. Prior to the war, Ukraine exported 98% of its cereals and oilseed via the Black Sea, at a rate of up to 6 million tonnes per month. But with the ports blocked and the railway system unable to cope with the extra volume, the country is currently only exporting between 1-1.5 million tonnes a month.

Since the Ukrainian rail system differs from that of European neighbors such as Poland, grain has to be transferred to different trains at the border where there are only a few facilities that can handle storage transfer.

Rerouting grain to Romania entails transporting commodities by rail to Danube river ports and loading them onto barges for sailing to the port of Constanta, which is a time-consuming and expensive process.

The inability to export grain from Ukrainian ports has led to surging food prices, as well as fears of a global food crisis.

Western leaders have accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of using food as a powerful weapon in his war with Ukraine. Moscow has denied these claims and pinned the blame on Western sanctions for exacerbating the food crisis.

Earlier, Moscow claimed it would guarantee the safe passage of grain vessels if Ukraine demines the Black Sea’s coastal waters. In response, Kyiv demanded that Moscow take the first step to unblock Ukrainian food exports by withdrawing forces from the country’s maritime waters and providing security guarantees against attacks on ports and merchant ships.