Following Russia’s attack on the port of Odesa a day after Kyiv and Moscow signed an UN-backed deal to allow for the export of millions of tonnes of grain from blockaded Black Sea ports, the United States is working on a “Plan B” to get the grain exports out of Ukraine, the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power informed.
According to Power, plan B involves using roads, rails, and river transport to send in barges, and speeding up exports by adjusting Ukraine’s rail systems to better align with those in Europe.
However, despite the contingency plan, Power stressed that nothing could substitute for Putin allowing the end of the blockade and sending out the grains in the most efficient way possible.
She expressed hope that Friday’s deal will stick despite the bombing attack on the Black Sea port of Odesa, ensuring the supply of grain will help drive down prices that have skyrocketed on news of the attack, after falling on Friday following the deal signing.
As traders showed caution on a grain export deal, wheat futures prices for September on the Chicago Board of Trade were up 3.6% on Monday morning.
The side effects of US-led Western sanctions on Moscow additionally raised food prices that already were high because of the pandemic, the effects of climate change, and Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov Russia, on the other hand, said on Monday that Russian missile strikes on Odesa port should not undermine the hoped-for export of grain, insisting that the strikes were against military targets and are in no way related to infrastructure used for the grain export.