Real-time updates: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Ukraine hopes to speed up grain exports through the recently reopened Bystra Canal on the Danube River amid a Russian blockade of its key Black Sea ports.

“Over the past four days, 16 ships have already passed through the mouth of Bystry. We plan to maintain this pace,” Deputy Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine Yuriy Vaskov said on Tuesday.

Access to the Danube and its small inland river ports became possible after Ukrainian forces recaptured Serpent Island from Russian forces in June.

Vaskov added that Kyiv is in talks with Romania and the European Commission to increase the number of ships passing through the canal and expects the congestion on the route to be “cleared” within a week, clearing the way for Ukraine to increase its monthly grain exports by 500,000 metric tons. .

According to the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine, more than 90 ships are waiting to enter Ukrainian ports through the Danube Sulinsky Canal.

Prior to the Russian invasion in February, about 80% of Ukrainian grain was exported from Black Sea ports, according to the ministry. Now exports leave the country exclusively through the Danube ports, railway and road checkpoints.

The capacity of the new routes “is currently insufficient to completely replace seaports,” the ministry said in a statement. In June, Ukraine exported about 2.5 million metric tons of goods, well short of the 8 million metric tons it had hoped to export, the ministry added.

Meeting in Turkey: According to the Turkish Defense Minister, on Wednesday Turkey will hold talks with Russia, Ukraine and the UN on the export of grain shipments located in Ukrainian ports. Ukrainian officials say more than 20 million tons of grain are stuck in Ukraine due to Moscow’s blockade of Black Sea ports.