Biden touts grain silos on Ukrainian border to help exports; Kyiv wants open ports By Reuters
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Ukrainian flag is covered in grain in this illustration taken May 9, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
By Michelle Nichols
(Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday temporary silos would be built along the border with Ukraine in a bid to help export more grain and tackle a growing global food crisis.
Since the Russian invasion and blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports, grain shipments have stalled and more than 20 million tonnes are stuck in silos. Ukraine says it faces a shortage of silos for a new crop.
The war is fueling the prices of grain, cooking oil, fuel and fertilizer.
Russia and Ukraine account for almost a third of world wheat supplies. Ukraine is also a major exporter of corn and sunflower oil and Russia a major exporter of fertilizers.
“I am working closely with our European partners to bring 20 million tonnes of locked grain to market in Ukraine to help bring down food prices,” Biden said at a union convention in Philadelphia. “He cannot go out through the Black Sea because he will be blown out of the water.”
Since the start of the war, Ukraine and Russia have laid sea mines. Some 84 foreign vessels are stuck in Ukrainian ports – many of which carry grain cargo on board.
Biden said Washington is developing a plan to move the grain by rail, but noted that the Ukrainian track gauge is different from that in Europe, so the grain must be transferred in different trains at the border.
“So we’re going to build silos, temporary silos, on the borders of Ukraine, including in Poland,” Biden said.
Grain could be transferred from Ukrainian railroad cars to the new silos and then onto European freight cars to “get it out to the ocean and across the world”, he said, adding that the plan took time.
“This is just one of the potentially useful steps to ensure food security. But we also need a green corridor for our ports,” Andriy Yermak, chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said in a message. on line.
Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry said on Tuesday that European countries are considering providing temporary silos to “preserve the harvest and secure future grain supplies.”
Ukraine says the best way to revive grain exports is through Black Sea shipments.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is trying to broker what he calls a “comprehensive deal” to resume Ukrainian Black Sea exports and Russian food and fertilizer exports, which Moscow says have been hit with penalties. The UN has so far described the talks with Russia as “constructive”.