US working to facilitate overland Ukraine grain shipments after deal falters

US working to facilitate overland Ukraine grain shipments after deal falters

White House says it is working on alternatives, but maintains seaborne shipments remain most practical method

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - The US is working with international allies and partners to facilitate overland grain shipments from Ukraine to world markets after a key deal fell apart, the White House said Wednesday.

"You can use rail, you could use truck routes. You could also look at perhaps other EU ports, but you got to get it out of Ukraine to be able to use other EU ports," National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.

The comments come after Russia unilaterally withdrew from what was known as the Black Sea Grain Imitative -- a UN and Türkiye-brokered pact that saw grain shipments depart from Ukrainian ports late last year for the first time since Moscow began its war against its eastern European neighbor in February.

The agreement helped alleviate global food insecurity by creating a safe corridor through the Black Sea for exports from three Ukrainian ports that had been blockaded by Russia since the war began. Ukraine, like Russia, is one of the world's largest exporters of grain.

After it quit the agreement earlier this month, Russia bombed Ukraine's port cities, particularly Odesa.

Kirby said that there is "no more efficient" way to bring Ukrainian grain to world markets than via sea, emphasizing that is "just a physical fact" while maintaining the Biden administration is working to establish less practical but necessary alternatives.

"We're working with Ukraine and other European partners to see if there's other ways to get grain to market overland. But that's not as efficient. You can't move as much or as fast via land routes, whether it's truck or rail, but we're working to see what we can do to try to increase the flow," he said.

"There's just there's no more efficient way than by maritime traffic," he added.

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