“Russia’s game is to starve the world to death.” The head of the Ukrainian foreign ministry condemns – once again – the naval blockade of its ports at the G20. Despite everything, Ukraine managed to increase its grain exports by 25% in June 2022, mainly thanks to ports located along the Danube. Because the river is today the emergency exit. Its three ports: Reni, Izmaïl and Kiliia (Oust-Dounaitsk) now account for more than half of the grain exports.

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In Réni there are thousands of trucks and as many drivers who wait several days, even weeks, to unload their goods. Yuri’s truck is filled with 24 tons of soybeans. This 45-year-old man comes from the Sumy region, a city in the north of the country located more than 15 hours away. He has no idea how long he will have to wait and explains that it depends on the type of grain. In this case for soybeans, the other drivers told him that he would surely have to wait a month to unload his truck.

A few meters away, another Yuri arrives from the city of Chernomorsk near Odessa. In his trailer: corn. “I’ve been here for five days and I think I’ll have to wait at least another two or three daysYuri explains. So yes, it’s not exactly convenient, but we have no choice, we must help our country export this grain for Ukraine, but also avoid famine in other countries “.

Ukrainians are redoubling their efforts to find solutions “soldiers of logistics”, as Dmitro Barinov, head of the Ukrainian port network, says, but all this has a price: “Before, for example, transporting cereals from Soumi to Reni, it cost for example $ 1,000 and now it is 1,500! Because we have to cover this waiting time and this partly explains the constant inflation of cereal prices. Dmitro Barinov explains that these Danube ports now export three times more grain than in February, but this is not enough to compensate for the closure of the Black Sea ports.

“It is a very dangerous situation: not only for Ukraine, but for the world. Many countries depend on our exports. Russia knows this very well and continues this blackmail”.

Dmitro Barinov, head of the Ukrainian port network

to franceinfo

Once the trucks have unloaded their goods, there are two ways to export. First of all by sea, ships heading to the Black Sea through the Sulina Channel. But these boats are small due to the 7 meters deep of the channel. Second option: along the river barges that load the cereals in these three ports, and which then go from the Danube to Constanta in Romania, where huge ships then load up to 50,000 tons of cereals.

For several weeks, with the war in Ukraine, this Danube port has been full.  (VALENTIN DUATE / RADIO FRANCE)

Moscow says it will allow Ukrainian ships laden with food to sail if the Ukrainian army clears its ports, which Kiev, which fears for the safety of its coasts, refuses to consider. Before the warUkraine exported 20 million tons of wheat and 27.5 million tons of corn annually, according to a report from the US Department of Agriculture.

The Danube has become the emergency exit for Ukrainian cereals – Valentin Dunate’s report

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