Biden touts makeshift grain silos on Ukraine border to aid exports

The Ukrainian flag is covered in grain in this photo illustration on May 9, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Rovich/Illustration/file image

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June 14 (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that temporary silos will be built along the border with Ukraine, including Poland, in an effort to help export more grain from the war-torn country and tackle a growing global food crisis.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 and the blockade of its ports on the Black Sea, grain shipments have been halted and more than 20 million tons have been stuck in silos. Ukraine has warned that it faces a shortage of silos for the new grain crop.

The war drove up prices for grain, cooking oils, fuel, and fertilizer.

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Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of the world’s wheat supply. Ukraine is a major exporter of corn and sunflower oil, and Russia is a major exporter of fertilizers.

“I am working closely with our European partners to get 20 million tons of Ukraine’s grain into the market to help lower food prices,” Biden said at a union conference in Philadelphia. “It can’t come out through the Black Sea because it will fly out of the water.”

Since the beginning of the conflict, Ukraine and Russia have laid sea mines. About 84 foreign ships are still stranded in Ukrainian ports – many with grain cargoes on board. Read more

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Biden said the United States is working on a plan to get grain out of Ukraine by rail, but noted that Ukrainian rail track metrics differ from those in Europe, so grain must be transported to different trains at the border.

“So we will build silos, temporary silos, on the borders of Ukraine, including in Poland,” Biden said.

The grain could be moved from Ukrainian railway wagons to new silos, and then to European freight wagons “to take it out to the ocean and transport it across the world,” he said.

“But it takes time,” he said.

Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry said on Tuesday that European countries were considering providing temporary silos to “preserve the crop and secure future grain supplies to global markets,” but gave no further details. Read more

Ukraine said the best way to get its grain exports moving again quickly is via Black Sea shipments. Read more

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is trying to broker what he calls a “comprehensive deal” to resume Ukrainian exports from the Black Sea and exports of Russian food and fertilizer, which Moscow says have been affected by Western sanctions. The United Nations has so far described talks with Russia as “constructive”.

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(Reporting by Michelle Nichols) Editing by Bill Bercrot

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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