Ukrainian grain exports are approaching pre-war levels in a remarkable bounceback as a result of Kyiv’s successful attacks on Russian fleets in the Black Sea.
Moscow’s refusal to allow Ukrainian shipments through the pivotal waterway had sparked concerns of widespread global hunger as many developing nations rely on Kyiv’s exports for affordable grain.
Ukrainian grain sore point for some EU nations
EU member states in the bloc’s east have called for import duties on Ukrainian grain, citing unfair competition for their farmers. Grain shipments are an ongoing source of tension between Kyiv and its neighbors, and last year, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary introduced bans on Ukrainian grain in an effort to increase profits for local farmers. But analysts weren’t convinced those bans would do much to alleviate competition concerns: “As long as Ukraine is able to certify that the grain is going to get to the country of destination, through the trucks and trains, the domestic use ban is not really going to put a dent in Ukraine’s ability to get exports out,” Terry Reilly, a senior agricultural strategist for Marex, told Reuters.
Ukraine established alternative routes amid Black Sea risks
Cargo ships traversing the Black Sea have to contend with mines and the threat of an attack by Russian troops. But a small, military-protected corridor emerged across the shipping route, allowing grain shipments to be delivered and clearing a massive backlog from Ukrainian storehouses. The shipping method was “much more expensive and time consuming” than it should have been, Kelly Goughary, an agricultural research analyst, told The Associated Press. But “they are getting product out the door, which is better than I think many were anticipating with the grain initiative coming to an end.”
Russian disruption of trade routes is a possible war crime
The weaponization of Ukrainian grain stockpiles is likely a war crime, human rights law firm Global Rights Compliance (GRC) said in a November report. Russia deliberately seized and controlled grain that was destined for international trade, GRC’s investigation found, and an estimated $1 billion in grain was stolen from Ukraine by Russian forces. “The scale of what we’re talking about here is something that is unprecedented,” Catriona Murdoch, the lead of the GRC’s Starvation Mobile Justice Team, told The Telegraph. “It has disrupted global food supply, creating havoc on a global scale.”