The US is in talks with Turkey, Ukraine and Kyiv's neighbors to increase the use of alternative export routes for Ukrainian grain, writes the Wall Street Journal.
The US-backed plan involves increasing capacity for Ukraine to export four million tons of grain a month by October. Much of the grain will be sent via the Danube and the Black Sea to nearby ports in Romania and then ship to other destinations.
Although this route is slower and more expensive, it could be an alternative to the Black Sea Shipping Corridor, established last year under an agreement with Russia, Turkey and the United Nations.
The West's planning the alternatives to the Black Sea Grain Initiative shows how the US, Ukraine and European countries are preparing for a scenario in which Russia does not join the agreement in time to export summer and autumn crops from Ukraine.
"The reality is that Russia has decided to attack global food supplies, and until it decides to stop the attacks, it will be difficult to bring them back to the 'grain agreement,'" said a high-ranking American official.
According to the officials, efforts to increase Ukraine's export capacity via the Danube are being made together with the efforts of Turkey and the UN to bring Russia back to the agreement. According to diplomats, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is under pressure to renew the deal before Ukrainian grain begins to be harvested in early September.
Russia withdrew from the agreement in July, halting Ukrainian exports from three ports. Recently, Russian forces have launched a series of missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian ports.
The US is considering all potential options, including military options, to protect ships bound for Ukrainian ports on the Danube.
The Latvian railway sees an opportunity to transport Ukrainian grain in autumn of 2023.
Thanks to the expansion of the carrying capacity of railway and sea logistics routes, Romania will double the transit of Ukrainian grain to four million tons.