Romania to Increase Capacity of Key Ukrainian Grain Route

Friday, 28 July 2023

Romania plans to expand one of the crucial transit routes for exporting grain from Ukraine following the disruption caused by Russia's withdrawal from the "grain deal" and the blockade of the Black Sea by Russia.

The Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luminița Odobescu, stated in an interview with Bloomberg that Bucharest is "in close contact with Ukraine to identify the best options to increase and speed up this transit."

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

The Romanian port of Constanța, the largest Black Sea port in the bloc, is currently the preferred option for Ukrainian companies due to proximity and costs.

Bucharest has increased the capacity of the Constanța port, upgraded and reopened a closed railway link to Ukraine and is working on bringing in much-needed pilots to steer ships through the Sulina channel to reach the Ukrainian ports on the river. The Sulina port even recorded record traffic in May with over 470 ships crossing, according to the Transport Ministry.

Gabriel Covrig, the Romanian official responsible for piloting, reported that the number of pilots on the river channel in Romania will start to gradually increase to about 60 from the current 40 by bringing back retired personnel and navy captains.

As known, Ukraine is compelled to export agricultural products by land and river transport after Russia exited the Black Sea grain initiative and began shelling Ukrainian ports, blocking maritime exports. This will boost transport capacity through the channel by 50%.

The US State Department has warned that Russia may be preparing a false flag operation in the Black Sea amid a series of attacks on port infrastructure in the south of Ukraine. James Cleverly, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the UK, has expressed his concern about the possibility of Russia attacking civilian vessels in the Black Sea.

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