Bulgarian PM: Talks on transporting Ukrainian grain through Bulgaria to Greek ports

The option of transporting Ukrainian grain by train through Bulgaria to Greek ports is being discussed, Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov said on July 24 after returning from a visit to Greece, where he spoke with his counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Denkov’s announcement came as Russia destroyed an agricultural warehouse holding grain in the Odesa region, in the latest such destruction after Russia unilaterally withdrew from the Ukrainian grain deal on July 17.

The Bulgarian Prime Minister said that currently ships with Ukrainian grain depart from the Port of Varna, as the railway corridors to Kavala have not yet been developed, but work will be done in this direction.

He said that there was an opportunity to significantly increase the capacity to transport Ukrainian grain through Bulgaria’s railway system. Denkov said that he had discussed this in Athens with Mitsotakis.

The Ukrainian government said that on July 24, Russia attacked the Danube ports in the Odesa region with Shahed drones and destroyed an agricultural warehouse with grain.

Several storage tanks were damaged and six people were injured, the Ukrainian government said.

Since July 17, Russia conducted six air attacks on the agricultural facilities of the Odesa region, destroying tonnes of Ukrainian grain, the statement said.

“After withdrawing from the Black Sea Grain Initiative last Monday, the terrorist state continues its deliberate strategy to endanger global food security. Russia’s food blackmail must be stopped,” Ukraine’s government said.

The BBC reported on July 24 that officials said that more than 60 000 tonnes of grain had been destroyed in the past week.

Global markets have seen the price of grain rise by eight per cent within a day of Russia’s pullout from the grain deal, the BBC said.

On July 22 2022, an agreement was brokered by the United Nations and Türkiye to open a safe maritime humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea (the Black Sea Grain Initiative).

More than 1000 ships full of grain and other foodstuffs left Ukraine from three Ukrainian ports (Chornomorsk, Odesa and Yuzhny/Pivdennyi) during the implementation of the initiative.

As of July 2023, almost 33 million tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs had been exported via the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

More than 50 per cent of the cargo was maize, the grain most affected by blockages in Ukrainian granaries at the beginning of the war. It had to be moved quickly to make space for wheat from the summer harvest.

Sixty-five per cent of the wheat exported through the Black Sea Grain Initiative reached developing countries. Maize was exported almost equally to developed and developing countries.

The grain deal with Ukraine had facilitated the export of more than 35.2 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain over the past year. 

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP – the largest humanitarian organisation in the world) also shipped wheat from Black Sea ports.

As of July 2023, the programme had bought 80 per cent of its grain stock from Ukraine, up from 50 per cent before the war. More than 725 000 tonnes of wheat left Ukrainian ports to Ethiopia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Djibouti during the implementation of the initiative.

(Photo via the Twitter account of the government of Ukraine)

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