skip to Main Content

Grain Silos at Port of Reni on the Danube Damaged by Russian Drones, While “U.S. Presses New Routes for Grain Exports”

Reuters writer Pavel Polityuk reported today that, “Russian drone strikes damaged grain silos and warehouses at the Ukrainian river port of Reni on the Danube, a vital wartime route for Ukrainian food exports, senior officials said on Wednesday.”

The article noted that, “An industry source told Reuters the port continued to operate after the attack;” and added that: “Ukraine’s Danube ports accounted for around a quarter of grain exports before Russia pulled out of a U.N.-backed deal to provide safe passage for the export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea in July.

“The ports have since become the main route out, with grain also sent on barges to Romania’s Black Sea port of Constanta for shipment onwards.”

“Earlier this month, Russia attacked IzmailUkraine’s main inland port across the Danube River from Romania, sending global food prices higher as it ramped up its use of force to prevent Ukraine from exporting grain,” the Reuters article said.

Bloomberg writers Keira Wright, Megan Durisin, and Irina Vilcu reported today that, “Russian drones reportedly hit a key Danube River grain port, sending wheat prices higher, in the latest attack aimed at Ukraine’s crop-export infrastructure.”

“Russian Attack on Ukrainian Port on Danube Sends Wheat Higher,” by Keira Wright, Megan Durisin, and Irina Vilcu. Bloomberg News (August 16, 2023).

Meanwhile, New York Times writer Andrew Higgins reported today that, “When Russia pulled out of a deal last month offering safe passage to vessels picking up grain in Odesa and other Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea, the Danube delta seemed to offer a relatively danger-free — if highly congested — alternative. But Russia has since sought to torpedo that idea by bombing Ukrainian grain-loading facilities there, too.”

Higgins explained that, “With waterways in and around Ukraine frothing with risk, however, the Sulina Channel — a 40-mile stretch of water leading from the Black Sea to Romanian, Ukrainian and Moldovan ports in the Danube deltahas kept grain flowing, becoming a vital and, thanks to NATO’s protective umbrella, so far safe lifeline for Ukraine.

“As Russia Threatens Ships in the Black Sea, a Romanian Route Provides a Lifeline,” by Andrew Higgins. The New York Times (August 16,, 2023).

“The channel used to be best known outside shipping circles as a magnet for bird watchers and other nature lovers, but it now commands the attention of the United States and the European Union as a strategic choke point, crucial for the export of Ukrainian grain.

“After a meeting on Friday of European and American officials in the Romanian port town of Galati, James C. O’Brien, the Biden administration’s sanctions coordinator, said the volume of Ukrainian grain exported via the Danube ‘will more than double.'”

The Times article added that, “He did not specify a time frame. But the officials discussed measures designed to not only keep the Sulina Channel open but expand its role, including the installation of new navigation equipment so ships can use it around the clock, not just during daylight hours.

Before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, Mr. O’Brien said, Danube shipping carried 100,000 tons of Ukrainian grain per month. In the 18 months since, this has increased tenfold, reaching a total of more than 20 million tons.

Also today, Reuters News reported that, “Ukraine shipped 8.1 million tonnes of grain through the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta in the first seven months of the year, the port authority told Reuters, with the pace slowing in July when Russia began attacking infrastructure at its inland ports.”

And Reuters writer Pavel Polityuk reported today that, “A container ship set off from Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa on Wednesday in a test of Russia’s threat to attack shipping after it abandoned a deal last month allowing Ukraine to export grain.”

The article noted that, “Despite the threats, Ukraine last week announced a ‘humanitarian corridor’ in the Black Sea to release cargo ships that have been trapped in its ports, pledging full transparency to make clear they were serving no military purpose.

“‘A first vessel used the temporary corridor for merchant ships to/from the ports of Big Odesa,’ Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Facebook.”

Elsewhere, Wall Street Journal writers Jared Malsin and Laurence Norman reported in today’s paper that, “The U.S. is in talks with Turkey, Ukraine and Kyiv’s neighbors to increase the use of alternative export routes for Ukrainian grain, officials said, after Russia pulled out of an agreement that guaranteed the safety of food shipments across the Black Sea.

The Wall Street Journal (Page A16 – August 16, 2023).

The U.S.-backed plan involves increasing capacity for Ukraine to export four million tons of grain a month via the Danube River by October. Much of the grain would be sent down the river and via the Black Sea to nearby ports in Romania and shipped onward to other destinations. Though slower and more expensive, the route would work as an alternative to a Black Sea shipping corridor established last year under an agreement with Russia, Turkey and the United Nations.”

Today’s article indicated that, “Western planning for alternatives to the Black Sea Grain Initiative shows how the U.S., Ukraine and European countries are preparing for a scenario in which Russia doesn’t rejoin the deal in time to move Ukraine’s summer and fall harvests.”

And Reuters writer Pavel Polityuk reported today that, “Ukraine’s grain exports have totalled 3.3 million metric tons so far in the 2023/24 July-June season, Agriculture Ministry data showed on Wednesday.

“The ministry gave no comparative figures for the same period a year earlier but said shipments were at 2.99 million tons as of Aug. 19, 2022.”

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

Back To Top