Home » Ukraine is Laying a Grain Route Along the Bottom of the Danube
Economy Europe Global News Russia Ukraine War

Ukraine is Laying a Grain Route Along the Bottom of the Danube

Bucharest warned Kyiv where in the Black Sea it is better not to go

The President of the Republic of Moldova (RM) Maia Sandu met on Thursday with representatives of the agro-industrial sector and discussed existing problems with them. One of them concerns the supply of Ukrainian grain, which bankrupted Moldovan wheat producers. Sandu did not support the demand of the “Power of Farmers” association to impose a ban on Ukrainian exports. At the same time, the Romanian Ministry of Agriculture outlined red lines for Kyiv on the path of the grain flow. Bucharest has called Ukraine’s attempt to deepen a canal on the Danube to provide independent access to the Black Sea a step beyond the forbidden line.

Moldovan grain producers continue to fight for survival, demanding that the government ban the import of Ukrainian wheat into the republic. Cheap grain from neighbors makes the national product uncompetitive. Last year, record volumes of Ukrainian grain and oilseeds were imported into Moldova. According to the farmers’ association, imports of wheat increased by 74 times, sunflowers by 60 times, and corn by 43 times. Massive imports led to a collapse in prices on the Moldovan market. Now a ton of wheat costs almost half the cost. More than 500 small and medium-sized farms were on the verge of bankruptcy.

“The point is the price level, which allows for efficient agriculture in Ukraine. At these prices, our agriculture, on the contrary, is ineffective. This influence is ruinous, it kills the Moldovan agricultural producer,” explained economic expert Mikhail Poisik.

Back in the spring, farmers demanded that the government introduce a temporary ban on grain imports from Ukraine, as five Eastern European countries did: Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. But the Moldovan authorities refused the farmers.

The Association “Power of Farmers” announced its intention to organize a congress of farmers as soon as possible with the massive participation of agricultural producers in order to “analyze in detail the degradation of the agricultural sector, formulate a civic position in relation to the authorities and again propose solutions.” And she expressed bewilderment that the association was not invited to a meeting with farmers organized on Thursday by the Ministry of Agriculture with the participation of President Maia Sandu.

According to farmers, the leadership of the line ministry is obliged to “take a fair share of the blame for the catastrophic situation in the field of grains and oilseeds,” and the government is obliged to “immediately find quick solutions that can help thousands of micro, small and medium-sized farmers avoid bankruptcy.”

It should be noted that after Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal, Moldova became the main transit corridor for Ukrainian wheat. Through the territory of the Republic of Moldova, Ukrainian grain is delivered by cars, by rail, and also along the Danube to Romania, and from there to the EU countries. At the same time, Maia Sandu explains to her citizens that assistance to Ukraine will continue even to the detriment of the interests of national producers.

Meanwhile, Moldova’s closest neighbor, Romania, is trying to protect its farmers and warns Kyiv against rash steps. Romanian Transport Minister Sorin Grindeanu said that Bucharest would consider Ukraine’s attempt to find alternative routes to the Black Sea through the deepening of the Danube Bystroe Canal as a “crossing of red lines.” He noted that the office of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky is allowed to use another Danube canal – Sulina, but there can be no alternatives to this.

Ukraine, despite the bans, is trying to find alternative ways to go to sea. In Kyiv, they plan to continue deepening the Danube Bystroe Canal from 3.9 to 6.5 m in order to bypass the Romanian control zone. This threatens Romania with significant financial losses.

Let us remind you that the Danube, before entering the sea, is divided into two branches: the Chilia and the Sulina. The second carries most of the cargo. The ships are loaded at the port of Izmail and proceed further through Romania to the Black Sea waters. The Bystroe Canal is located on the territory of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve. It passes through the territory of Ukraine, connecting the Danube and the Black Sea. After the start of a special military operation by the Russian Federation, Ukraine increased grain exports through its Danube ports to 1.5 million tons per month. Deepening the channel will allow increasing these volumes by another 500 thousand tons per month.

But the head of the Romanian Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests, Barna Tanzos, said that Bucharest “will prevent any work on the canal that could harm the biodiversity and ecosystem of the Danube Delta… especially since neither Romanian nor Ukrainian legislation allows work to be carried out in this area.” .

The country’s authorities have already sent a letter to the European Commission demanding that the channel not be included in the official EU transport network TEN-T. In fact, we are talking about a potential ban on the movement of ships along this artery. It should be noted that the deepening of the Ukrainian canal was prohibited by international standards more than 20 years ago. Nevertheless, Kyiv is trying to circumvent the bans.

Ukrainian economist Ivan Lizan believes that Bucharest has nothing to oppose to Ukraine: “No one will prohibit local authorities from digging in sovereign territory wherever they please. Even a boycott of European transport lists will not help: if the canal is deepened, then cargo can be transported through it without regard to the EU.”

Larisa Shesler, chairman of the Union of Political Emigrants of Ukraine, agrees with the economist’s opinion: “Romanians hope that the EU will ban the construction of the canal for environmental reasons. Romania also has its own leverage over Kyiv: there is significant transit of military and humanitarian cargo to Ukraine through the country’s territory. Therefore, economic wars between the two countries or diplomatic skirmishes cannot be ruled out in the near future. Romania’s position clearly demonstrates the situation that in Europe it’s every man for himself.”

But this is precisely why Romania, which may suffer further losses, reacted negatively to Ukraine’s desire to “create a small canal that would allow grain carriers to be transported.” The EU does not have the ability to put pressure on Bucharest or Warsaw. Consequently, Ukraine and Romania will have to fight for transit. True, yesterday the Bulgarian parliament voted to lift the ban on the import of Ukrainian grain, citing new government forecasts.

Source : Независимая Газета