The liberation of Snake Island from Russian forces has freed up the Bystre Canal of the Danube-Black Sea for the movement of ships transporting agricultural products.

On July 11, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Yuriy Vaskov commented on the latest situation with grain exports.

“Following the liberation of the Snake Island, we got the opportunity to use the mouth of the Bystre again to enter our ports and thereby unload the Sulina Channel. Over the past two days, eight ships with agricultural products have already passed through this route and we expect that such rates will continue in the future.” Vaskov said.

Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, export of grain and other cargo from seaports has been blocked by Russian troops. Exceptions have been three ports on the Danube River – Reni, Izmail, and Ust-Dunaisk.


During the temporary occupation of Snake Island, ships could not pass through the mouth of the Bystre by sailing along the Danube-Black Sea channel, so all ships used the Romanian Sulina Channel.

But the Sulina Channel has been subject to a recent traffic jam of more than 80 vessels waiting for days to enter the Romanian Black Sea port of Sulina. This has caused losses for cargo owners, which has a knock-on impact for producers of agricultural products.

The Ministry of Infrastructure is negotiating with Romania and colleagues from the European Commission regarding the increase of throughput and the number of pilots involved in the Sulina channel to increase the number of vessels able to pass.

The ministry expects that the congestion of ships will be eliminated within a week, and Ukraine will be able to increase the monthly export of grain by 500,000 tons.

Encouraging but more needs to be done

UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, admitted that the resumption of navigation on the Bystre Estuary Canal is crucial in current conditions.

In a Twitter post, Griffiths wrote: “Encouraged by reports that exports of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea-Danube canal have resumed. But this is not enough. As food insecurity mounts around the world, opening the Black Sea route is our best bet to mitigate global hunger.”


“The world can’t wait,” he added.

In June, Ukraine exported approximately 2.5 million tons, with a global need for eight million tons per month. Approximately 80% of Ukrainian agricultural products are exported exclusively through the Danube ports, railway, and road checkpoints on western borders.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine threatens the world with a food crisis, which has recently become one of the main topics on the global agenda.

Ukraine is the world’s leading wheat exporter and provides for 9% of the global market. It also accounts for 42% of the sunflower oil market and 16% of world corn production.

Due to Russia’s blockade of Black Sea ports and a plethora of mines along the coast, 20 to 25 million tons of wheat are stuck in Ukraine, and world grain prices are rising.

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