Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations are negotiating ways to resolve the issue of blocked grain supplies from Ukraine. To that end, Turkey is ready to create a so-called grain hub in Istanbul.
Safe passage of ships is necessary for shipping grain of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin came up with several variants of solving the problem and expressed readiness to assist the process. However, Kiev insists that Russian troops should be withdrawn before the deliveries can begin.
Global prices for wheat and corn have increased significantly since the start of the year. The UN Security Council declared during its May 21 session that the world has enough wheat for ten weeks, and forecasts are worse than during the crisis years of 2007 and 2008.
Below are the possible routes and scenarios that make grain deliveries from Ukraine possible.
Via Berdyansk and Mariupol
- According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia is ready to create “the required logistics” and ensure easy transportation of grain from the ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol “without any preconditions.”
Peaceful transportation and guaranteed safe passage to the ports, as well as security of navigation via the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov is among Russia’s possible guarantees.
Efforts to clear mines from waters next to the ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol have been practically completed.
- Russia does not oppose attempts to transport grain via the Kiev-controlled port of Odessa in Ukraine’s south and is ready to guarantee safe passage of ships.
Ships loaded with grain can leave the port only after mines are removed from the surrounding waters, and the ships, earlier sunk by the Ukrainian side, are lifted from the seabed.
Putin assured that Russia would not make use of the situation to stage a hypothetical seaborne attack on Odessa.
According to a Bloomberg report, Russia and Turkey have tentatively agreed to unblock the port of Odessa. Ankara plans to set up a special center in Istanbul to track and coordinate cargo ships. Moscow, in turn, insists on inspection of all ships coming to Odessa to prevent possible arms deliveries.
Via Western countries
- Putin also hinted at the possibility of transporting grain via the Danube River, towards ports in Romania.
Ukrainian grain can also be delivered by rail to Hungary, Romania and Poland. However, since Ukraine’s official railroad track width is 1,520 mm, carriages need to be adjusted to the European standard of 1,435 mm. The process may take a few hours.
According to Ukrainian authorities, the country has six facilities where the adjustments can be made, including two on the border with Poland (Yagodin with the capacity of servicing 28 carriages per day) and Mostiska (18), Yesen on the border with Hungary (30) and Vadul-Siret on the border with Romania (40). Along with foreign facilities of this kind, about 175 carriages can cross the border daily, while an average cargo train has about 75 carriages.
Lithuania suggested its port of Klaipeda for Ukrainian grain exports and sent several trains to Ukraine via Poland, bypassing Belarus. However, the time those trains spend in transit exceeds the margins of commercial feasibility. Another problem is the lack of rail carriages. About 4,000 of them are necessary for the purpose, but neither Ukraine nor Lithuania have the required number at their disposal.
- Transportation via Belarus will not require any carriage adjustments. It also makes direct deliveries to Baltic ports possible.
Western nations and Ukraine reject the initiative, because it envisages removal of sanctions imposed on Belarus.
World Bank set to give US$1.49 billion additional loan to Ukraine
The World Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved US$1.49 billion of additional financing for Ukraine, the organization said in a statement.
The new financing is part of the total support package of over US$4 billion that the World Bank is mobilizing. The aid includes financing guarantees from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Latvia and other states. The World Bank expects the funding from this project to be used “to pay for wages for government and social workers”.
The statement quoted World Bank Group President David Malpass as saying that the bank is “working with donor countries to mobilize financial support” and is taking measures “to help provide Ukrainians with access to health services, education and social protection”.
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