Sunday 22 May 2022
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G7 and EU try to keep Ukraine export routes open

The seven richest western industrialized countries and the European Union want to ensure that Ukraine can remain a major grain exporter despite the Russian invasion. Currently, more than 25 million tons of grain is stored in Ukrainian ports, mainly in Odessa, but it cannot be transported because of the war.

The European Union has called on the customs authorities of Ukraine's four EU neighbors (Slovakia, Poland, Romania and Hungary) to give priority to the handling of Ukrainian transports. Earlier, the EU already decided to suspend all duties on the import of Ukrainian products.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned at the beginning of the G7 talks of a food crisis, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, as a result of the war. It is now up to the seven richest democracies in the world not to abandon these countries, she said. Germany is currently the rotating chairman of the G7. 

The G7 agriculture ministers' meeting will also take place this weekend in Stuttgart. Minister Cem Özdemir again accused Russia of using hunger as a weapon. Together with the EU and European partners, the G7 countries are looking for alternative transport routes for Ukrainian grain — by land, rail or via the Danube, Özdemir said on Deutschlandfunk.

Because the trains in Ukraine run on a wider track, everything has to be transhipped at the border crossings of neighboring countries. This leads to congestion and delays. The EU has called on European carriers to send additional transhipment equipment and freight containers.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced a record crop and an increase in exports. According to preliminary estimates, the grain harvest could reach 130 million tons, including 87 million tons of wheat, a record. That will allow Russia not only to be self-sufficient but also to increase supplies to the global market for its partners, Putin said.

Ukraine accuses Russia of looting Ukrainian grain silos and stealing agricultural products. 

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