“But that amount still falls far short of satisfying export potential in a country that expects to harvest 44 million tons of grain this year — cut nearly in half from a high of 86 million in 2021.”
Marc Santora and Victoria Kim reported in Sunday’s New York Times that, “Russian forces struck a grain terminal in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, Ukrainian officials said on Saturday, extending a bombardment of the country’s infrastructure that has raised alarm about Kyiv’s ability to ship grain to the world.
“President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has vowed to enhance air defenses around the port and the southern coast, but Kyiv’s resources are stretched thin and it faces difficult choices about where to deploy the limited number of air defense systems that can shoot down Russia’s most sophisticated missiles.
“Ukraine continues to ask its Western allies to speed up the delivery of more air defense systems and warn that continued Russian bombardment could leave it without the necessary infrastructure to ship grain even if Black Sea shipping lanes open up. Moscow has struck Ukrainian ports near daily since pulling out of a deal last week that allowed Ukraine to ship its grain despite the war.
‘In two or three months, we may not have a single port left,’ Natalia Humeniuk, the spokeswoman for the Ukrainian military southern command, told French journalists this past week. ‘They want to dominate the Black Sea. They want to have a monopoly on grain,’ she said.
Sunday’s article pointed out that, “The attack reported on Saturday hit a grain terminal in the Beryslav district and was just one of 29 attacks by Russian forces directed at Kherson in the past 24 hours, the Ukrainian military said.”
And John Hudson and Anastacia Galouchka reported in Sunday’s Washington Post that, “When four Russian cruise missiles ripped apart a grain storage facility in this southern village last week, shock waves shattered the windows of adjacent homes, sending broken glass everywhere.”
“Like many of the farmers who live near Odessa, one of Ukraine’s major port cities, [Tetiana Lazarova] is convinced that Moscow’s attacks on the port and its agriculture sector are aimed at extracting maximum pain following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to terminate a United Nations-brokered deal allowing grain exports from the Black Sea.”
The Post article stated that, “Odessa’s grain industry suffered tens of millions of dollars in damage as a result of the near-nightly Russian airstrikes. The attacks destroyed at least 60,000 tons of grain, enough to feed more than 270,000 people for a year, according to the U.N. World Food Program.
“Follow-on attacks Monday targeted grain warehouses along the Danube River — a key alternative route for exports following the collapse of the Black Sea deal — and appeared to be aimed at crippling the country’s entire agricultural industry, which accounted for about 20 percent of Ukraine’s economy before Russia’s invasion.
“On Thursday, another Russian missile hit Odessa’s cargo terminal and administrative buildings, killing one employee, Ukraine’s military said.”
Hudson and Galouchka noted that, “The use of the Danube River as an alternative trade route has shown the most promise thus far. In March 2022, the Danube routes moved 55,000 tons of agricultural cargo but have now greatly expanded capacity, with 2.2 million tons moving in May. ‘That’s almost a 4,000 percent increase,’ [Samantha Power, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development] said.
Meanwhile, Wall Street Journal writers Jared Malsin and Alistair MacDonald reported on Friday that, “Russia’s decision to pull out of a deal allowing Ukrainian grain to be exported globally is a high-stakes gamble by President Vladimir Putin that risks diplomatic tensions with two of his country’s most influential partners, China and Turkey.
“Russia’s move to choke off Ukraine’s massive grain exports will further cripple its adversary’s economy and could boost Russia’s own grain export revenue by sending global grain prices higher. But it comes with a major cost by putting economic pressure on China, the largest recipient of Ukraine grain under the deal, and straining relations with Turkey, another major buyer that helped broker the original agreement between Russia and Ukraine last year.”
The Journal article pointed out that, “Around half of Ukrainian grain, or some 29 million metric tons, was exported through the Black Sea corridor during the last harvest season, of 2022 to 2023, according to the Ukrainian Grain Association. The rest was evenly split between Ukraine’s Danube ports, where grain is loaded onto barges and sent to Romanian ports, and by land across its borders with the European Union.
“It will be hard for Ukraine to replace grain exports that went directly to China through Black Sea ports because the countries they will now be exported through, mainly Poland and Romania, don’t have the same approvals from China, whether on hygiene or otherwise, as Kyiv does, according to Sergey Ivashchenko, a director at the Ukrainian Grain Association.”
In 2021/2022, #China purchased nearly all its 21.0 million tons of #corn imports from the United States and #Ukraine and 70 percent from the United States alone.— FarmPolicy (@FarmPolicy) July 27, 2023
However, since October 2022, China has increasingly diversified its corn import sourcing.https://t.co/aGgrkUpH4s pic.twitter.com/dlpvkwEtli
Associated Press writer Hanna Arhirova reported in today’s Los Angeles Times that, “From the first of July last year until June 30 this year, Ukraine exported 68 million tons of grain, according to data from Mykola Horbachov, the president of the Ukrainian Grain Assn. Ukrainian farmers shipped 11.2 million tons via railways, 5.5 million tons by road transport and around 18 million tons through Danube ports. Additionally, nearly half of the total exported grain, 33 million tons, was delivered through seaports under the Black Sea Grain Initiative.”
Elsewhere, Bloomberg writers Andra Timu, and Irina Vilcu reported on Friday that, “Romania plans to rapidly expand one of the key transit routes for grain from neighboring Ukraine as Russia’s escalating attacks in the Black Sea are exacerbating risks for the global food trade.
“The country has already facilitated the transit of more than 20 million tons of grain from Ukraine, about half of the entire 41 million tons shipped via the so-called solidarity lanes since Russia’s invasion began. Now, Romania may open new crossing points with its neighbor, increase staff at existing crossings and bring in retired and military pilots to speed up the transit of ships through the Danube canals, Foreign Minister Luminita Odobescu said.”
The Bloomberg article added that, “Further to the south along the route, Bulgaria is also willing to ‘significantly’ increase the transit of Ukrainian grain through its railway network, as long as the Greek ports have the capacity to handle the grain, Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov said earlier this week after returning from a visit to Athens and talks with Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis.”
And Reuters News reported on Friday that, “Ukrainian farmers have so far harvested more than 11 million tons of the 2023 grain harvest, the agriculture ministry said on Friday.”