'Ukraine must recapture not only Donbas but also Crimea'

Ukraine must not only stop and push back the Russian invasion on the eastern front, but must also recapture the Crimea peninsula from the Russians.

For that, Kiev needs much more modern Western arms support, such as tanks and drones, and also needs to be lifted from the blockade of grain exports through the Black Sea ports. It is the first time that the reconquest of Crimea is mentioned as a military-strategic goal.

This plea was made by Ukrainian President Zelensky and agriculture ministers at the annual meeting of the World Trade Organization WTO, and in discussions with EU ministers and politicians. The European Parliament's Agriculture Committee discussed the export situation with Ukrainian Deputy Minister Markian Dmytrasevych.

The number of fields sown in Ukraine has fallen by a quarter since the Russian invasion. The harvest will probably be enough for domestic needs, but not for export. The decrease is not only because there is fighting in parts of the country, but also because Russia is blocking the ports. 

As a result, many warehouses are still full of grain that has not been removed, and there is no place to store summer harvests. That is why many Ukrainian farmers grow less export-oriented crops and opt for (for example) soybeans. 

Harvesting starts in July and there is a shortage of storage facilities. There is still about 10 million tons of storage capacity in occupied Ukrainian gebieden. “We won't be able to store this year's crop anywhere and farmers won't be able to sell their produce. They don't get any money," Deputy Minister Markian Dmytrasevych told Euractiv earlier this week.

“We have plans, such as temporary storage: the so-called plastic bags that can hold 200,000 tons. The second possibility is foreign technology: temporary silos. Roughly speaking, it is a floor on the ground so that no moisture can penetrate, with a tent on top. We are now actively working with the US, Canada and other partners who have this technology," the deputy secretary said.

German Chancellor Scholz has yet to confirm that he will travel to Kiev with French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Thursday. Especially in German media there is plenty of speculation about the visit of the three largest EU countries to Zelensky.

This is mainly due to Ukraine's possible candidate for membership of the European Union. A decision on this will most likely be taken next week during the EU summit in Brussels.