AFP: Lithuania asks EU to use Baltic ports for Ukrainian grain exports

Lithuania has called on the European Union to use Baltic ports to export Ukrainian grain after the Black Sea Grain Initiative's collapse, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported on July 24.

In a letter sent to the European Commission and acquired by AFP, three Lithuanian ministers said that the Baltic Sea ports could "serve as a reliable alternative for transiting Ukrainian products, including cereals."

This could help to transport 25 million tonnes of grain annually, the Lithuanian officials believe.

Russia withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative on July 17, effectively terminating the deal that allowed Ukraine to export its agricultural products amid the ongoing full-scale invasion.

Ukraine is one of the world's leading grain producers and exporters. The agreement, brokered by Turkey and the U.N. in July 2022, has played a crucial role in stabilizing food prices worldwide.

The EU promised to support Ukraine's efforts to export its agricultural products via the so-called "solidarity lanes," set up in May 2022 to assist Kyiv in shipping out its produce.

According to President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, the solidarity lanes facilitated the export of more than 45 million tonnes of grain, oilseed, and other products so far.

Croatia also offered its rail network and ports on the Adriatic Sea as an alternative route for Ukrainian grain, while Bulgaria and Greece reportedly discuss plans to transit Ukrainian agricultural produce by Bulgarian trains to Greek ports.

In its appeal, Lithuania has further asked the EU to cut red tape on Ukraine's border with Poland.

Together with the governments of Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria, Warsaw called on the EU to prolong the ban on the sale of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds in these countries until the end of the year.

The measure was initially instituted by the EU in May and was later prolonged on June 5, set to expire by Sep. 15.

However, the five Central European members are not opposed to transiting Ukrainian agricultural products through their territory.

Read also: This Week in Ukraine Ep. 17 – Black Sea grain deal is dead. What can Ukraine do?