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UE earmarks millions to boost trade with Ukraine

The European Commission will urgently dedicate EUR 250 mln to improve the operations of the UE-Ukraine solidarity lanes, which constitute key routes for the export of Ukrainian grain and import of fuel and humanitarian aid.

Including the loans provided by European banks and the World Bank, the total amount earmarked for investment in EU’s near-border infrastructure will amount to EUR 1 bn.

A joint declaration to this effect was issued by the President of the European Commission and the Prime Ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine.

Poland’s PM Mateusz Morawiecki said that “Russia systematically uses food as a weapon, by intentionally destroying stocks. Using hunger as a weapon reminds us about the darkest days of Soviet history.”

“The Kremlin tries to blame the West for the food crisis, which it has caused and orchestrated to pressure us into waiving the sanctions. We cannot give in to the Russian blackmail,” emphasised Morawiecki.

Poland crucial partner in the Solidarity Lane initiative

The Russian blockade on the Black Sea had prevented export of grains and other agricultural products from Ukraine, which has led to a food crisis. Last May, UE created solidarity lanes to enable transportation of grain by rail and via inland roads. As much as 15 million tonnes of food have been exported, half of this through the territory of Poland, mostly to Africa and the Middle East.

“Millions of people in the world’s most fragile countries rely on Ukraine’s crops for their survival. Russia intentionally tried to starve them in blockading Ukrainian ports preventing ships full of grain from reaching the world. And by doing so, millions of people in fragile countries ‒ from Somalia to Yemen ‒ are put on the brink of starvation. We Europeans will not let that happen,” said the President of the EC, Ursula von der Leyen.

#SolidarityLanes have supported the export of 15 million tonnes of Ukrainian agricultural products, helping put food on the table & reduce prices globally.

With our partners, we are now mobilising 1 billion euros to further boost the SolidarityLanes.

— European Commission 🇪🇺 (@EU_Commission) November 11, 2022

Mrs. Von der Leyen also announced an urgent investment of EUR 250 million for the solidarity lanes infrastructure in countries neighbouring Ukraine, including Poland. This investment has been increased by 50 million from the originally planned EUR 200 million.

Ukraine grateful for the support

Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the EU for creating the solidarity lanes.

“We were able to open a new chapter in the economy of Ukraine, leading through the territory of the European Union, which ensured a revenue of EUR 15 bn. As part of the solidarity lanes, European countries provided additional rolling stock, ports and trucks. However, over time, the solidarity lanes have reached their capacity resulting in bottlenecks, which have increased the cost of logistics. Therefore, new investments and the expansion of terminals is necessary,” emphasised Zelenskyy.

Russia on the losing end

Although the sea route was reopened in July thanks to the agreement negotiated by the UN and Turkey, and allowed for 10 million tons of grain to be exported from Ukraine, Russia has been systematically obstructing movement of sea vessels. Therefore, the solidarity lanes, which proved to be effective, seem to be the most reliable way of maintaining trade with Ukraine.

An EU officer stated in the conversation with the Polish Radio that “The world is receiving Ukrainian grain, Kyiv earns money, so do transportation companies from the European Union, and Russia is losing its leverage.”

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