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Possible new solutions to Ukraine’s grain export challenge emerge

Pressure increasing to upgrade alternate Ukraine grain export routes

The Lithuanian port Klaipeda.

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In view of the collapse of the UN’s Black Sea Grain Initiative in July at Russia’s insistence, work is proceeding in multiple sectors to develop new export routes for Ukrainian grain. NE Global News Service has pulled together reports on several new initiatives worth following.

New rail hub to facilitate Italy-bound grain

A “dry port” will be built in the Ukrainian province of Transcarpathia to facilitate grain shipments to Europe. This project will be implemented in the village of Goronda and will organize the supply of agricultural products to Italy, as reported in the local media. It is planned to allocate more than 40 hectares of land to construct the new “dry port.” Located on the Pannonian plain close to the border with Hungary and Slovakia, Goronda will become a regional hub that provides intermodal logistics and the ability to store grain, vegetable oil, and containers. The new grain hub will be built based on the narrow-gauge European model, meaning all outbound shipments can cross into the EU without changing the railway gauge.

The Goronda “dry port” is being designed to connect Ukraine with Italian cities, and from there, Ukrainian products can move onwards to other countries. It is also reported that the Goronda Platform project will be implemented with the participation of Italian businesses.

Ukrainian wheat fields.

The Minister of Economy of Italy has united several Italian business circles around the project, such that the railway and the owners of Italian ports in Venice, Verona, and Trieste are all involved. The Italian minister invited them to join and become founder members of this terminal project.

Bolstering the Danube lifeline

Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, the US, and the EU met in Galati, Romania on August 11 to discuss grain exports through the Danube. According to Ukraine’s Minister of Infrastructure, Oleksandr Kubrakov, it is necessary to speed up the passage of ships through the Danube Delta canals, which will increase the capacity of the traffic-clogged Sulina Canal just inside Romanian territory, and organize additional areas to carry out faster transshipments at the large Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta.

Kubrakov added that work is also underway to include the Ukrainian portion of the Danube in the maps of the Trans-European network of inland waterways, which will contribute to the entire business operation in the Ukrainian Danube transportation market. In addition, Ukraine and Romania are working on the full launch of cargo transportation at two road checkpoints.

There are also plans to increase the capacity of the Porubne – Siret border crossing station by at least 20% and to open two new crossing points. The US has promised to help modernize critical rail and road transportation and transit cargo infrastructure, provide financial assistance to Ukraine’s neighbors to purchase pilot boats, and facilitate cross-border transshipment and transit. 

Freight cars on the Trans-Carpathian railway route.

The US has significant experience in the lower Danube region stemming from a series of projects it undertook in the early 1990s to assist the Romanian and Bulgarian Coast Guard in controlling unsanctioned Russian oil shipments to Serbia via the Danube during the Balkan wars.

Potential northern export routes being considered

Lithuania wants to offer another way to export grain from Ukraine. After Russia’s withdrawal from the grain agreement, Lithuania’s port of Klaipeda may become a new gateway for Ukrainian agricultural products. Lithuania now considers it might be possible to deliver some quantities of Ukrainian grain to the port via the Nieman River.

Along with its fellow Baltic Republics – Latvia and Estonia – the painful, lingering memories of being unwilling members of the Soviet Union remain raw in Lithuania. The three key NATO allies have watched Moscow turn its World War II Baltic Sea territorial prize, Kaliningrad, once the East Prussian city of Konigsberg; birthplace of the 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant, into a militarized exclave of warships, missiles, and bombers capable of carrying nuclear devices, and transform its main vassal state, Belarus, into a massive tactical nuclear weapons base.

This has been enough to incentivize Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to be proactive in finding immediate ways to counter the actions of the Kremlin, particularly when Vladimir Putin’s neo-imperialist policies occur on their shared borders.

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