© Reuters. A combine harvests wheat in a field in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict near the settlement of Nikolske in the Donetsk Region, Russian-controlled Ukraine, July 19, 2023. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko/File Photo
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Ukraine is on track to export all grain from its 2023 harvest despite Russian attacks on Ukrainian ports and infrastructure, according to Britain’s foreign office, but the United Nations warns that the Black Sea export situation remains fragile.
Ukraine harvested about 80 million tons of grain and oilseeds in 2023, including an exportable surplus of about 50 million tons in the 2023/24 July-June season, the country’s government has said.
Ukrainian grain exports reached 25.2 million metric tons as of Feb. 9, analyst APK-Inform said last week. Ukraine’s agriculture ministry did not provide export data as its website was hacked last month and is now unavailable.
British government officials said that if Ukraine continues to ship 6 million tonnes a month by land and sea it would be on track to export all of its 2023-24 harvest by May.
“Despite repeated Russian attacks on Ukrainian ports and infrastructure, Ukraine has succeeded in pushing back much of the Russian navy from Crimea, securing a globally important export route in the Black Sea,” British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said in a statement to Reuters.
Cameron described the export forecast as “great news” for Ukraine. It comes as Kyiv faces ammunition shortages and uncertainty over the future of U.S. military aid, which has been on hold for months due to Republican opposition, even as Russian forces begin to gain the upper hand on the battlefield.
Ukraine launched a shipping corridor hugging its western Black Sea coast near Romania and Bulgaria in August, a month after Russia quit a year-long landmark deal – brokered by the United Nations and Turkey – that had allowed the safe Black Sea export of nearly 33 million metric tons of Ukraine grain.
“Exports through the Ukrainian maritime corridor from the Odesa ports have been steadily increasing, which is good news not only for the Ukrainian economy but for global food security. The situation though remains fragile,” a U.N. spokesperson told Reuters.
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