Ukraine carrier says ‘no alternative’ now to exporting grain through Danube River

Land routes will not solve the problem of Ukrainian grain exports following Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain initiative, Dmytro Moskalenko, CEO of Ukrainian Danube Shipping Company, said.

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Speaking to Latifundist, a Ukrainian news media outlet, Mr Moskalenko explained it is economically unprofitable for farmers to transport their products through Europe, so there is no alternative to the Danube River.

"Who thinks the checkpoints, railway infrastructure, and elevators are safe? There is no alternative to the Danube, at least in the short term. We need to strengthen air defence and work," he said.

After the closure of Odesa ports, Mr Moskalenko explained, the loading of the Danube River increased not because the grain corridor was closed, since the cost of transporting products is important for farmers.

"This is not like last year, when global prices for agricultural products were much higher, and farmers were ready to pay any price for freight to save the harvest and not leave it to the occupier. Today, there is no more panic, and farmers can wait for better conditions."

Ukrainian Danube Shipping Company, he said, has changed its strategy and built a certain logistics grain model.

"We transship grain on our own, take it by barge to [the Romanian port of] Constanta, and then immediately transship it on board a large vessel. For instance, we recently shipped a 45,000-tonne vessel.

"The grain programme is planned for the coming months. Therefore, a situational increase in demand does not significantly affect our work."

In addition, Mr Moskalenko noted, the shipment of grain through the Danube River has not been subject to delays as was the case with the grain corridor.

On July 17, 2023, Russia announced its withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, adding that it would not give guarantees of non-attack on civilian vessels after that date.

On the same day, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy offered the UN and Turkey to continue the work of the corridor without Russia.

After that, Russia attacked Odesa for several nights in a row, causing serious damage to the ports in Odesa and Chornomorsk, which worked within the corridor.