European Interest

The only way to bring Ukrainian grain to international markets is a ceasefire in the Black Sea says Oleg Ustenko

© Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Ukraine has enough stored grain to meet domestic and international demand until at least the end of 2022, perhaps into 2023, but for this, all military actions in the Black Sea must be stopped. This was stated by Oleg Ustenko, an economic adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in a comment to Newsweek.

As the media notes, the blockade of Ukrainian seaports by Russian troops, doesn’t allow Ukraine to sell the country’s excess produce abroad. Before Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine exported more than 6 million tons of grain via the Black Sea each month. Ukraine now has moved its exports to railways and roads, but these do not have the capacity of seaports. In April, for example, only 617,000 tons of produce were exported by rail.

The adviser to the President emphasizes that Russia planned the blockade of Ukrainian seaports from the very beginning of its aggression to create a food crisis in the world and put as much pressure as possible on the West.

“Russia wanted to weaponize food as well,” Oleg Ustenko noted.

“They are playing different cards at one time on the same table: energy, food, plus they have their ‘military operation’ on our land and they’re destroying infrastructure, all our food storage,” he explained.

According to the President’s adviser, Russia is currently firing at any ships that appear in the Black Sea. But if a ceasefire is declared in the region, Ukraine will react quickly and ships with grain will leave seaports.

“If the fighting stopped, we could do that almost immediately because we have access to the main ports,” Oleg Ustenko said.

“My view is that the only way to move this grain to supply international markets is to stop the war, or at least to stop all military actions in the Black Sea,” he emphasized.

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