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US seeking grain deal alternatives to bypass Russia – WSJ

Washington reportedly wants to reroute Ukrainian agricultural exports to the Danube River

The US is in talks with Türkiye, Ukraine, and other regional players about boosting Ukrainian grain exports via alternative roots after Russia terminated an agreement that provided secure passage for such goods via the Black Sea, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. However, RIA Novosti has reported that these efforts have so far failed to produce any concrete results.

Washington supports a plan that aims to increase Ukrainian grain exports to global markets to 4 million tons per month by October by using the Danube River, according to the WSJ, citing officials familiar with the matter. However, 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 Türkiye.

The new initiative still reportedly includes grain deliveries via the Black Sea, but these will be sent to Romanian ports for onward shipment to other destinations.


An unnamed US official told the outlet that Washington “is considering all potential options, including military solutions” to protect ships bound for Ukraine’s ports on the Danube.

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The plan will also reportedly rely on so-called “solidarity lanes” organized by the EU to ship the grain out of Ukraine. EU officials quoted by the WSJ estimate that Kiev might end up exporting 5 or 5.5 million tons of grain per month if “everything runs smoothly.” Some of those lanes, however, have been plagued by a number of obstacles, including inadequate staffing and processing capacity, which have led to delays.

Unnamed officials told the WSJ that efforts to increase exports via the Danube coincide with Ankara and UN’s efforts to revive the grain agreement, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly being under pressure to accomplish this goal before the start of the harvesting season.


Meanwhile, following the WSJ report, a source familiar with the matter cited by RIA Novosti claimed that negotiations between Ankara and Washington on alternatives to the grain deal are now at the discussion stage but have not yet produced any “concrete decisions or a plan.” Meanwhile, he noted that Türkiye is continuing to work on reviving the grain deal and is maintaining contacts with Russia.

Moscow pulled out of the grain deal last month, citing the West’s failure to lift sanctions hindering its agricultural exports. However, Russia has repeatedly said that it is ready to rejoin the deal once all of its conditions are met.

August 16, 2023 at 06:27PM


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