Romania decries ‘cynical’ Russian grain infrastructure attacks

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Romania is working to find more ways to help transport Ukrainian grain, the country’s foreign minister said Monday, describing the security situation in the Black Sea region as “quite serious.” 

More than half of Ukrainian exports using the EU’s solidarity lanes — corridors set up to facilitate transit by road, rail and inland waterway — came through Romania. The European Commission has estimated that more than 65 percent of the grain exported via solidarity lanes in June traveled along the Danube corridor. 

Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative last month, fueling fears about the future of Ukraine’s grain exports and impact on food security. 

Over the past weeks, Kremlin forces have repeatedly attacked Ukrainian grain storage infrastructure, including on the Danube river — close to Romanian territory — raising further concerns about how Ukraine can get its products to world markets. 

Speaking to POLITICO, Romanian Foreign Minister Luminița-Teodora Odobescu called Russia’s moves “really cynical.”

Moscow is “seriously impeding Ukrainian grain exports that are a lifeline for vulnerable people in many importing countries,” which “is really exacerbating the global food crisis,” she said. 

Odobescu underscored how Bucharest has made an effort over the past months to boost the transit of Ukrainian grain through Romania, including by expanding capacity in ports and border crossing points. 

“It takes time to see the results,” Odobescu said about the Romanian government’s efforts to support alternate grain transit, undertaken with the support of the European Commission.

She added that Romania is also coordinating with Ukraine “to see how we can do more.” Further talks are expected between Bucharest and Kyiv this week on the topic. 

But while European countries are assisting with transit, a number of EU nations in Central and Eastern Europe have also raised concerns about the dumping of Ukrainian grain in their domestic markets. 

In June, the European Commission extended a ban on Ukrainian grain exports to Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia — until at least September 15. 

Asked about whether the countries will push for restrictions to continue, the minister said, “We have to find the right balance.”

There is a need “to continue our support for Ukraine in helping them to transit their grains,” she said. But it is also necessary “to find solutions in order to financially help the farmers in the regions which are affected.” 

Hanne Cokelaere contributed reporting.

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