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Ukraine plans new Danube export route to bypass Poland border blockade

The proposed new route would run from the Ukrainian port of Izmail to Romania’s Constanta and the Danube ports of Germany.
Danube
New Ukrainian large-tonnage SLG barge. Credit: Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry/Facebook
Ukraine plans new Danube export route to bypass Poland border blockade

Ukraine is planning an additional route via the Danube River to boost exports to pre-war levels as Polish farmers escalated border protests over Ukrainian imports, completely blocking trucks at one checkpoint and partially blocking elsewhere, Bloomberg reported.

The Danube became a crucial route for Ukrainian supplies as Russia has maintained a Black Sea blockade since the start of its all-out invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. However, a significant amount of crops also flow by rail and road via the EU, and Polish farmers are protesting what they call an uncontrolled flood of Ukrainian food products by blocking a key route.

“Our plans for this year is to remove all artificial obstacles for exporters and we are working to improve domestic logistics. We are planning container transportation via the upper Danube as Romania is more predictable than the Polish border,” Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov stated in an interview on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, according to Bloomberg.

The proposed new route would run from the Ukrainian port of Izmail to Romania’s Constanta and the Danube ports of Germany. The Ukrainian Danube Shipping Co. has already built a second large-tonnage SLG barge to deliver cargo, the Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry reported earlier this month.

Volumes via the Danube still amount to 1.2 million-1.8 million tons per month, according to Kubrakov. However, Kyiv has also used road and rail for trade throughout the war, and export volumes via Poland have currently fallen to 300,000 tons per month from 1.3 million in 2022, with automobile crossings totally blocked.

In August 2022, the first commercial vessel carrying Ukrainian grain left Odesa Port under the grain deal brokered by Türkiye and the UN. Over the subsequent year, Russia suspended the deal several times and delayed the inspection of the vessels, demanding to ease Western sanctions against Russia. Finally, in July 2023, Russia withdrew from the deal along with a threat to consider all vessels as potential military targets.

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