The US government is reportedly engaged in discussions with Turkey, Ukraine, and other regional players to find alternative routes for Ukrainian grain exports, following Russia’s termination of an agreement that allowed secure passage for such goods via the Black Sea. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Tuesday that these efforts have so far failed to yield any concrete results, according to RIA Novosti.
The new plan supported by the US aims to boost Ukrainian grain exports to global markets to 4 million tons per month by October, by utilizing the Danube River. The report acknowledges that this route will be less convenient than the Black Sea corridor established under the now-defunct grain deal brokered by the UN and Turkey. However, the new initiative still includes grain deliveries via the Black Sea, but these will be sent to Romanian ports for onward shipment to other destinations.
To protect ships bound for Ukraine’s ports on the Danube, an unnamed US official revealed that Washington is considering all potential options, including military solutions.
The plan also relies on the so-called “solidarity lanes” organized by the EU to ship the grain out of Ukraine. EU officials estimate that if everything runs smoothly, Kiev might end up exporting 5 or 5.5 million tons of grain per month. However, some of these lanes have been facing obstacles such as inadequate staffing and processing capacity, resulting in delays.
According to unnamed officials cited by the WSJ, the efforts to increase grain exports via the Danube align with Ankara and the UN’s efforts to revive the grain agreement. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is reportedly under pressure to accomplish this goal before the start of the harvesting season.
In response to the WSJ report, a source familiar with the matter stated that negotiations between Ankara and Washington on alternatives to the grain deal are at the discussion stage and have not yet resulted in any concrete decisions or plans. However, Turkey continues to work on reviving the grain deal and maintaining contacts with Russia.
Last month, Moscow withdrew from the grain deal, citing the failure of Western nations to lift sanctions that hinder its agricultural exports. Russia has expressed readiness to rejoin the deal once all of its conditions are met.
The implications of Russia’s termination of the grain agreement have prompted the US to seek alternative routes for Ukrainian agricultural exports, particularly for grain. The negotiations with Turkey and other regional players, as well as the utilization of the Danube River, aim to ensure that Ukrainian grain exports can continue despite Russia’s actions. However, concrete decisions and plans are yet to be made, and the situation remains to be resolved.