Croatia says exporting Ukrainian grain via port


Published: 2023-09-25 13:22

Last Updated: 2024-04-14 05:09

Croatia says exporting Ukrainian grain via port
Croatia says exporting Ukrainian grain via port

Ukraine has been exporting grain through a northern Croatian port for more than a year, an official told AFP Wednesday, as Zagreb aims to increase exports of the war-wracked country's crops.

Despite being hundreds of miles from Ukraine's western border, Croatia has become an unlikely transit point for the country's grains due to the ongoing Black Sea blockade by the Russians.

Approximately 100,000 tons of Ukrainian corn and wheat have been exported from northern Croatia's Rijeka port since May 2022, according to Marino Klaric -- the head of the facility's grain terminal.

The grain travels to Croatia by rail via Hungary.

The amount is a mere fraction of the millions of tons grain Ukraine produces annually.

To date, the Rijeka port's annual grain capacity is just one million tonnes, however, officials are scrambling to expand the facility's export capacity.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic repeated Zagreb's pledge to increase the export of Ukraine's grain through its ports.

"Croatia sees itself as the Mediterranean door for central Europe," said Plenkovic.

Ukraine's agriculture sector has come under mammoth pressure since the Kremlin pulled out of a UN- and Turkey-brokered grain deal in July, which aimed to ensure safe navigation for civilian ships.

Last year's grain agreement helped push down global food prices and provide Ukraine with an important source of revenue to fight the war.

Since backing out of the deal, Moscow has repeatedly attacked Ukraine's port infrastructure, in what Kyiv says is a cynical attempt to damage its exports and undermine global food security.

The conflict in Ukraine and the problems with Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea have resulted in the EU becoming a major transit route and export destination for Ukrainian grain.

However, in June the EU agreed to restrict imports of grain from Ukraine to five member states seeking to protect their farmers who blamed those imports for the slump in prices on local markets, although shipments still transit these countries.

Croatia has been a consistent supporter of Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian military operation in 2022, supplying Kyiv with humanitarian aid and military hardware, including helicopters.