Ukraine’s grain challenge involves clearing mines, finding ships and trusting Putin

Scores of crop vessels have been stuck in Ukraine since the war began, forcing the country to turn to rail and truck routes and river ports — which can handle much smaller volumes.

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World News

July 22, 2022 - 3:10 PM

Farmers harvest a wheat field in the Ukrainian Kharkiv region on July 19, 2022, amid Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

Ukraine finally secured a deal aimed at restarting crucial Black Sea grain exports that have been crippled by Russia’s invasion. But getting them going won’t be easy.

Government officials from Kyiv and Moscow on Friday signed parallel agreements with Turkey and the United Nations at a meeting in Istanbul intended to help revive shipments from one of the world’s top wheat, corn and vegetable-oil exporters. That could be good news for a strained global food market and Ukraine’s economy that’s been wrecked by the war.

Yet even now with the accord, it will take time for traders and officials to kick-start the flows. Ukraine faces the task of clearing a pathway in mined seas, finding enough ships to carry the backlogged grain and re-routing trains and trucks that are now being used elsewhere. Getting insurance to cover operations is a challenge, too.

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