The war in Ukraine kills and destroys, strangles the economy of the occupied country and threatens with a global food crisis. The Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea is hindering the export of Ukrainian grain along this route, and while Moscow prepares to organize its own sale of seized grain, Ukraine is opening up alternative ways to get its crop to markets.
The newly opened Baltic route is now being added to the land and river route established at the end of April to Romanian Black Sea ports. Grains arrive by trucks or trains to the Polish border and from there are sent to Polish ports for international distribution.
Two routes help to unload a large accumulation of grain in Ukraine and increase its shipment abroad, but this is not enough. “These routes are not ideal because they create certain bottlenecks, but so far we are doing everything to develop them,” Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Dmytro Senik said at the Asian Security Summit in Singapore, Reuters reports. Senik also said that the Ukrainian government is working with the Baltic countries to create a third corridor for the export of agricultural products. He did not give details, but the land border between Poland and Lithuania will allow transit to the ports of the Baltic countries.
Despite open routes through Poland and Romania, Ukrainian grain sales remain well below pre-war levels, when a booming agricultural sector shipped five to six million tons of grain and oilseeds per month across the Black Sea to Africa, Europe and Asia. There are now more than 20 million tons of grain stuck in the silos, and it seems possible to export a maximum of two million tons per month.
Logistics is very difficult, and there is a lot of grain left in Ukrainian elevators waiting to be sent abroad
Ukraine will soon run out of deposits for a new crop – necessarily a smaller one due to the war that will begin at the end of July. U.S. President Joe Biden has proposed building temporary barns on the border with Poland, but Polish Agriculture Minister Henryk Kowalczyk warned that it would require “many details like location, infrastructure, funding and ownership” to be resolved and would take three to four months. .
Deprived of its Black Sea ports – Russian-occupied ones like Mariupol and Berdyansk, or blockaded ones like Odessa – Ukraine faces huge logistical challenges along two open routes. The railway network is overloaded with additional volume on the way, and its gauge is larger than the European standard, so at the Polish border it is necessary to change the wheels of wagons or transfer cargo to another train or trucks. On the Romanian route, the process is complex and costly, as it involves rail transport to the Danube or its tributaries or canals for barge transport to Romanian Black Sea ports such as Constanta or Sulina.
Ukrainian corn comes to Spain in two ways
A cargo of 18,000 tons of Ukrainian corn for Spain transited through the new Polish-Baltic route, which arrived at the port of A Coruña on June 13, bought by the Galician Association of Semi-Finished Food Producers (Agafac). The Romanian route was opened a month and a half ago precisely by sending to Spain: a ship with 71,000 tons of corn from Constanta on April 29th.
Russia and Ukraine together account for almost a third of the world’s wheat supply, and Ukraine is also a major exporter of corn, barley, sunflower and rapeseed oil. Fearing a global food crisis that will hit the poorest countries first, the UN has been negotiating with Russia and Ukraine for weeks about a corridor to produce grain from Ukrainian ports, with the help of Turkey, which agrees. To unblock the ports, Russia is demanding that Ukraine remove the mines it has planted in the area, while Turkey is demanding that the ships be kept safe. Another difficulty is to convince shipping and insurance companies that ships are not in danger. But Ukraine does not trust.
“We all have to be very careful in the negotiations between Putin and Erdogan, the two autocrats, because if there are no security guarantees for Ukraine to compensate for the clearance of its ports, this could be a very dangerous move with dire consequences for the military situation. … in the south of the country,” warns Andras Ratz, a political scientist at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), a think tank based in Berlin. Without mines in the area, Russia could have attacked Odessa from the sea.
Russia is negotiating the sale to third countries of the ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk, which it occupied
In the ongoing battle for Ukrainian grain, Russia is also mobilizing its diplomatic contacts in the buying realm. “I have had meetings with young African diplomats,” explains political scientist Andras Ratz, “and it is interesting to see how successfully Putin works with these countries to establish common ground for Russia that would legalize the shipment of grain from Ukrainian ports on ships.” under any flag., accompanied by Russian ships, which does not comply with international law, since these coastal waters are the exclusive economic zone of Ukraine.
Poor countries far from war, in need of grain to feed their population, could be a great resource for Putin.
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