Ukraine seeks alternative export routes in Croatia

Ukraine seeks alternative export routes in Croatia

Ukraine has expanded its export trade corridors through shipping grain via Croatian seaports amid Russia’s imposed Black Sea naval blockade, according to a senior Ukrainian official.

While the country’s deep Black Sea ports were primarily used to export grain, Ukraine has sought for alternative routes since Russian President Vladimir Putin backed out of the Black Sea grain deal in July.

Ukraine and Croatia made a preliminary agreement for Ukraine to move grain through Croatian ports on the Danube and the Adriatic Sea, said Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, during her visit to Zagreb.

In a written statement, First Deputy Prime Minister, Yulia Svyrydenko, said: “Ukrainian grain has already been exported through Croatian ports. We are grateful for this possibility.

“Although it is a niche trade route, it is already popular. We are ready to develop it by expanding the capabilities of the transport corridor.

“We believe that this logistics route will play an important role in bilateral trade between our countries even after the war,” Svyrydenko followed. Svyrydenko, however, did not disclose the amount of Ukrainian grain that has already been exported through Croatian ports, Reuters reported.

The total grain oilseed harvest could climb up to 80 million metric-tonnes, according to the Ukrainian Traders Union UGA. This would subsequently mean that approximately 49 million tonnes could be exported in the July-June season of 2024, reported Reuters.

As of 1 September, this month’s total exportation has reached 4.5 million tonnes, reported the Agriculture Ministry.

READ: Ukraine releases first ship on its humanitarian corridor

The UN-brokered grain deal that was initially agreed in July 2022, enabled three key Ukrainian ports namely, Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Pivdennyi. This safeguarded the exportation of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, and along a neutral humanitarian corridor towards Istanbul.  

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, withdrew from the deal, however, having argued that the agreement had “lost its meaning”. He stated that the essence of the deal held great humanitarian significance that “the West has completely emasculated and perverted” through leveraging the grain deal as a political tool.

Since then, Kyiv has turned to the Danube River ports to export grain. Yet, this has not stopped Russia from targeting Ukrainian port infrastructure on the Danube, reported Reuters.

Russian drones hit Ukraine’s main inland port and grain silo across the river Danube in the southern Odesa region in early August, which sparked global food prices. Following the deals collapse, Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of targeting 26 port facilities, along with five civilian vessels, and 180,000 tonnes of grain in the past two weeks.

Russian strikes have also led to the build up of congestion in shipping lanes, particularly when the Russian Vasily Bykov patrol ship fired on the Palau-flagged Sukru Okan vessel on 13 August, after the ship’s captain failed to respond to a call for inspection by Russian authorities.

Reuters further reported that Ukraine have also employed rail by means of exportation, yet deliveries to Europe through this mode of transport are far more costly in comparison to direct shipments from Ukrainian ports, Ukrainian brokers have stated.

READ: War in Ukraine driving skyrocketing shipping costs

Despite the unrest, Ukraine has more recently stated that it is near to finalising a scheme with global insurers to provide coverage for ships transporting grain to and from its Black Sea ports, reported the Financial Times.

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