Ukraine hopes to accelerate grain exports through the recently reopened Bystre Canal of the Danube amid Russia’s blockade of its key ports on the Black Sea.
“In the past four days, 16 ships have already passed through the mouth of Bystre. We intend to maintain this pace,” Ukraine’s deputy infrastructure minister said in a statement on Tuesday.
Access to the Danube and the river’s small inland ports was made possible after Ukrainian forces recaptured Snake Island from Russian forces in June.
Vaskov added that Kiev was negotiating with Romania and the European Commission to increase the number of ships crossing the canal and expected the congestion on the route to be “cleared” within a week, paving the way for Ukraine to increase its monthly grain exports by 500,000 tons.
More than 90 ships are waiting to enter Ukrainian ports through the Danube’s Sulina Canal, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure.
Before the Russian invasion in February, about 80% of Ukraine’s grain was exported from Black Sea ports, the ministry said. Now exports leave the country exclusively through the Danube ports, rail and road checkpoints.
The capacity of the new routes is “currently insufficient to completely replace the seaports,” the ministry said. In June, Ukraine exported about 2.5 million tons of goods, far less than the 8 million tons it had hoped to export, the ministry added.
Turkey meeting: According to the Turkish defense minister, Turkey will hold talks with Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations on Wednesday about the export of grain shipments in Ukrainian ports. Ukrainian officials say more than 20 million tons of grain are stuck in Ukraine as a result of the blockade of Moscow ports on the Black Sea.