Delivery of grain from Ukraine to the port of Rostock (Germany), August 23, 2022. JENS BÜTTNER / DPA / PICTURE ALLIANCE VIA GETTY IMAGES
At the wheel of his German sedan heading straight for Poland, on a snowy road in western Ukraine, Valeriy Krupko tastes his new life. He sometimes misses Kherson, a port city in the south of the country that he left a few months ago. He remembers the “containers hanging from cranes swinging in the sky”, “ships that came from all over the world”. He ran a port terminal there, until it closed in February 2022, at the start of the war.
Read also: Maps of the war in Ukraine, since the Russian invasion of February 2022
As a symbol of the transformations of the Ukrainian economy, here he is at the head of another terminal, far from the sea and the container ships, planted in the middle of a landscape of snow and emaciated trees, in Mostyska, near the Polish border.
In the country at war, the new trade routes are overland and all lead to the European Union (EU). Since the closure of many ports on the Black Sea and the closure of the borders with Russia and Belarus, Ukraine finds itself anchored to the European economy. Thus, 53.6% of its exports went to the EU in 2022, compared to only 39.1% in 2021. After falling at the start of the conflict, exports to the Union have even recovered spectacularly at their pre-war level, around 2.5 billion euros, whereas overall they fell by 35% that same year.
A changeover facilitated by Brussels, which suspended, in June 2022, for a renewable year, all its import duties from Ukraine as well as all anti-dumping measures relating to steel from the country. This unprecedented influx of agricultural commodities is not going unnoticed. In March, the heads of state of five Eastern European countries, including Poland, Romania and Hungary, asked for help from Brussels to support their farmers, who they say are suffering “an increase unprecedented” in imports from Ukraine, including cereals, oilseeds, eggs and poultry. kyiv also announced in early April that the country would temporarily suspend the sale of grains and oilseeds to Poland.
Mine red from the cold, Valeriy Krupko climbs the stairs of his silo with long strides, with the same ardor as a general hoisting himself to the top of a citadel, to show on the horizon his new land of conquest, the Europe. “There will be containers and silos here that can hold grain, liquids like oil, and there will be warehouses for seeds or fertilizers. In short, all goods can be stored here. At the foot of the brand new silos which shine in the sun, workers, squatting in the snow, tighten the last bolts on rails built with the two gauges, Ukrainian and European, to be able to accommodate the trains on both sides of the border.
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