France is working to boost Ukraine grain exports via land routes together with other EU states, the agriculture minister said on Monday, after Russia withdrew from a deal that had allowed exports via the Black Sea.
Russia indefinitely suspended its participation in the U.N.-brokered grain deal on Saturday, after what it said was a major Ukrainian drone attack on its Black Sea fleet in Crimea.
„The work we need to do at European level, we have often discussed it … is look to see whether, if it cannot pass through the Black Sea, it can instead pass through overland routes,” Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau told RMC Radio, Reuters reported.
He cited routes through Romania and Poland which both border Ukraine.
France signed a cooperation agreement with Romania in mid-September to ease the export of Ukrainian grains by land, rail and river routes.
„We will continue to work towards a system which does not put us in the hands … of Vladimir Putin,” he said.
He said he had discussed the issue with Germany and other EU countries.
Twelve grain export ships left from Ukraine despite Russia’s decision to pull out of the Black Sea grain deal, Ukraine’s minister of infrastructure said on Monday.
Moscow called ship movements through the Black Sea security corridor “unacceptable”. The Russian defense ministry said it wanted “commitments” from Ukraine not to use the Black Sea grain corridor for military purposes, adding “there can be no question of guaranteeing the security of any object” in the area until then.
Ukraine’s grain exports have plummeted since February’s invasion because its Black Sea ports which were key routes for shipments, were closed off. That drove up global food prices and prompted fears of food shortages in Africa and the Middle East.
Exports via the Black Sea resumed in July after Russia agreed to allow Ukrainian grain ships safe passage.