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Bloomberg: Romania to expand capacity for Ukrainian grain transit

by Martin Fornusek July 28, 2023 5:56 PM 2 min read
Sunlight coming through shrapnel holes in the roof over piles of barley three days after five Russian missiles struck a grain storage facility in the village of Pavlivka, Odesa Oblast on July 24, 2023. (Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images)
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Romania plans to expand its capacity for transiting Ukrainian grain as Russia's unilateral termination of the Black Sea Grain Initiative blocked the sea corridor for Ukraine's exports, Bloomberg reported on July 28.

The country plans to open new border crossings and increase staff working on the transit, Romania's Foreign Minister Luminita-Teodora Odobescu told Bloomberg in an interview on July 27.

"We are in close contact with Ukraine to identify the best options to increase and speed up this transit," the minister said.

"The security situation of course is not easy, but we are very much committed to continue to help Ukraine."

According to Bloomberg, Romania has increased the capacity of the Constanta port for shipping out Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea. The country has also re-opened a closed railway link with Ukraine and seeks to hire more ship pilots for transporting Ukrainian products via the Sulina branch of the Danube River, the newspaper added.

As Bloomberg noted, the country has already facilitated the transport of 20 million metric tons of Ukrainian grain, which is almost half of the produce shipped via the EU's solidarity lanes.

According to von der Leyen, more than 45 million metric tons of grain, oilseed, and other products have been exported through the solidarity lanes since they were instituted in May 2022.

Facilitating the transit of Ukrainian grain may stretch Romania's transport capacities, as the country itself is also a major grain exporter, Bloomberg commented. Bucharest was among the five EU members who asked the EU to institute a ban on the domestic sale of Ukrainian grain products in those five countries.

While the measure is currently set to expire on Sep. 15, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Hungary said they will ask the European Commission to prolong the measure at least until the end of the year. According to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, the countries are nevertheless open to transiting Ukrainian grain through their territories.

Another potential obstacle are Russian attacks against Ukrainian river ports, which, according to Bloomberg, deter some of the Romanian ship crews.

On the night of July 24, Russian forces launched Shahed-136 drones at the Danube River ports of Izmail and Reni, located in Ukraine's Odesa Oblast. The ports are only 200 meters from the Romanian border.

After Russia's one-sided termination of the Black Sea Grain Initiative on July 17, Ukraine has been seeking alternative ways of exporting its produce. Several EU countries, including Bulgaria and Croatia, suggested using their transport infrastructure to support Ukrainian exports.

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