May 4, 2022
German minister says Russia's attacks on Ukraine's grain infrastructure aims to reduce competition
Cem Oezdemir, Germany's Minister of Food and Agriculture, said Russia's attacks on Ukraine's grain infrastructure appears to be efforts to reduce the competition in Russia's export markets, Reuters reported.
Oezdemir said in the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland, a cooperation network of German regional newspapers, that they have received reports of targeted Russian attacks on grain infrastructure in Ukraine such as silos, fertiliser stores, and farm areas.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukrainian President, said the country could face tens of millions of tonnes of grain losses because of Russia's blockade of Ukraine's Black Sea ports, resulting in a food crisis that will affect Asia, Europe, and Africa.
Russia and Ukraine are major global grain exporters. Wheat prices have jumped 40% worldwide since Russia invasion into Ukraine cut supplies available on world markets from the Black Sea.
Data from the International Grains Council showed Ukraine was the fourth biggest grain exporter in the world for the 2020/21 season, shipping 44.7 million tonnes. Exports have greatly declined since the conflict.
Oezdemir said that rising market prices are benefitting Russia, adding that he will ask what assistance can be provided to Ukraine at the upcoming G7 agriculture ministers meeting in mid-May.
He said railway tansport is one possible method of exporting grains, but requires additional effort and has limited capacity.
He also said Germany would propose to provide assistance.
Ukraine has been steadily increasing its grain exports to the European Union through land, but different rail track widths in Ukraine and the EU mean trains from Ukraine cannot operate on the European rail network.