France, Turkey propose rival plans for Ukraine grain exports

France wants to use Romanian ports to get grains out of Ukraine as the Russian invasion disrupts usual supply chains, while Turkey is pushing for a route through the Black Sea via the Odessa ports, the Guardian reported on Friday.

Grain exports out of Ukraine become more crucial with every passing day as the country is one of the bread baskets of the world. Further delays in getting its stocks to their destinations could result in famines, affecting the poorest parts of the world, especially Africa, Guardian cited Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi as saying. According to Draghi, a global famine could happen if there is no timeline set for the grain transport by the G7 summit next weekend.

Russia has rejected a United Nations resolution to escort grain ships leaving Odessa and sailing through the Bosporus, despite European support for the plan.

Turkey now proposes to use three Ukrainian ports that have not been cleared of mines. “Since the location of the mines is known, certain safe lines would be established at three ports,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Wednesday.

However, Ukraine has its doubts. “Our military people are against it, so that is why we have very limited optimism about this model,” David Arakhamia from the Ukrainian negotiation team said, speaking in Washington at the German Marshall Fund.

Meanwhile, French President Emanuel Macron believes the solution is through Romania’s Constanta port, 450 km to the south of Odessa. Land and rail routes to the port would need to be expanded for the plan to work, however, Constanta is already almost at capacity, Guardian said.

“Through Romania, the Danube and the railway can be accessed,” Macron said.

U.S. President Joe Biden has proposed to build silos along the Polish border to prevent Russia from taking the grain, which is normally exported via seven ports along the Black Sea.

While some of the grain is directed to Baltic ports via railway, Ukrainian estimates show that a maximum of 20 percent of the country’s exports could be shipped this way. This option would also prove extra costly as the price of road transports have increased fivefold in 2021.

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