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Special Convoys to Assist in Black Sea Transports- Corridor “Essential for Ukrainian Farming to Survive”

Financial Times writer Christopher Miller reported over the weekend that, “Russia launched its largest drone attack of the war in the early hours of Saturday morning, targeting Kyiv in what Ukrainian officials fear is the start of a winter campaign aimed at destroying the country’s energy infrastructure.”

Miller explained that, “Russia has mostly targeted Ukraine’s ports and grain-exporting infrastructure in southern Odesa region with large-scale missile and drones attacks this year. But it began targeting Kyiv in recent weeks, as temperatures dropped and the first snow fell over the capital.”

Reuters writer Max Hunder reported on Saturday that, “The target of Saturday’s attack was not immediately clear, but Ukraine has warned in recent weeks that Russia will once again wage an aerial campaign to destroy Ukraine’s energy system, as it sought to do last winter.”

Turning to Black Sea export developments, Bloomberg writer Daryna Krasnolutska reported on Saturday that,

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that special convoys will accompany vessels carrying key exports from Ukraine, including foodstuffs, via the Black Sea to ensure safe passage.

“Kyiv recently opened a unilateral corridor from the region to allow ships to transport commodities like grains and metals from its deep-sea ports in so-called Greater Odesa, after Moscow in July pulled out of a United Nations-backed Black Sea grain deal that had guaranteed safe movement of crop vessels.”

The Bloomberg article pointed out that, “‘I have agreements with several countries regarding powerful convoys operated by Ukrainians but equipped with foreign gear,’ Zelenskiy said on Saturday at a press conference in the capital Kyiv, where he hosted the international conference Grain from Ukraine. ‘We will receive and are already being provided with sea boats,’ he added.

“Russia stepped up missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian port infrastructure and hit a commercial ship at one of Greater Odesa ports earlier this month, adding to risks for Ukraine’s commodity exports just as farmers in the war-battered nation are close to complete this year’s harvest. A ship chartered by agricultural giant Cargill Inc. was damaged by an explosion while sailing from a Ukrainian port in the Black Sea last week. Still, vessels continued to transport commodities.”

Also on Saturday, Reuters writer Max Hunder reported that, “Ukraine needs more air defences to protect its grain export routes as well as regions bordering Russia, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday, as he addressed an international summit on food security in Kyiv.”

The New York Times Graphic (August 9, 2023).

The article added that, “Zelenskiy said Ukraine would be supplied by its foreign partners with vessels to accompany convoys of cargo ships from Ukraine’s ports to guarantee their security.

“I have agreements with several countries about powerful accompaniment of convoys by Ukrainians, but using (foreign) equipment,’ he said.”

Meanwhile, Reuters writers Pavel Polityuk and Gus Trompiz reported last week that, “Ukraine’s efforts to revive sea exports in defiance of Russia’s military blockade have given a glimmer of hope to a teetering farm sector in which loss-making producers are abandoning some land in one of the world’s biggest grain belts.

“With no end in sight to the war with Russia, access to the Black Sea is critical if Ukraine is to preserve an agricultural industry that was the fourth-largest grain supplier globally before the conflict and in value terms accounted for half of Ukraine’s total exports last year.”

The article pointed out that, “‘The sea corridor is essential for Ukrainian farming to survive,’ Jean-Francois Lepy, head of grain trading at French agribusiness group InVivo, said.

“‘Without a corridor there is going to be a serious problem in 2024/2025,’ he said on the sidelines of this month’s Global Grain conference in Geneva.”

With respect to land based transportation out of Ukraine, Raphael Minder, Barbara Erling, Roman Olearchyk, and Susannah Savage reported last week at The Financial Times that, “Polish truckers have extended their blockade along the border with Ukraine to protest against competition from Ukrainian drivers, some of whom have been stuck for 17 days in freezing temperatures, in a further blow to Kyiv’s trade and war efforts against Russia.

Backed by local Polish farmers and their tractors, lorry drivers on Thursday blocked the key border crossing at Medyka, expanding a protest that started at three other crossings on November 6.”

The FT article noted that, “The blockade also deepens a trade dispute between Warsaw and Kyiv after imports of Ukrainian grain were banned to protect Polish farmers, despite that measure violating the EU’s common trade policy.

“Ukraine’s Black Sea ports in the Odesa region continue to function despite Russian attacks, making Poland less important for Ukrainian grain exports, say analysts.”

Reuters News reported last week that, “Ukraine’s shipments of food by road decreased 5.2% in the first 20 days of November amid difficulties on the Polish border caused by a drivers’ strike, brokers said on Wednesday.

“Spike Brokers, which regularly tracks and publishes export statistics in Ukraine, said on the Telegram messaging app that 327,000 metric tons of agricultural goods were exported by truck from Nov. 1-20, versus 345,000 tons in same period in October.”

Elsewhere, Reuters News reported last week that, “The bulk of Ukrainian crops have entered the winter season in predominantly good condition, analyst APK-Inform quoted the country’s state weather forecasters as saying on Thursday.”

And Reuters writer Pavel Polityuk reported late last week that, “Ukraine, a major global grain producer, has harvested 75.7 million metric tons of grain and oilseeds from the new 2023 harvest so far, the agriculture ministry said on Friday.”

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.

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