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The European Commission (EC) has announced restrictions on imports of Ukrainian grain into five member states – Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia – would be extended to 15 September, World Grain wrote.

All five countries had seen a significant increase in grain imports from Ukraine since the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) was agreed between Kiev and Moscow in July 2022 to allow for commercial food and fertiliser exports from three key Ukrainian Black Sea ports – Odessa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi, the 6 June report said.

The restrictions, which were due to expire 5 June, applied to four agricultural products – maize, rapeseed, sunflowerseed and wheat – originating in Ukraine, World Grain wrote.

When introducing the ban on 2 May, the EC said the surge in traffic at the borders between Ukraine and the EU had had an impact on logistics costs and created bottlenecks, resulting in saturated storage capacities and logistical chains. This had hampered the economic viability of producers in those countries.

The EC said the import restrictions were part of an overall support package that it had put forward and was being complemented with financial support for farmers in the five member states, the report said.

The measures are also facilitating the transit of Ukrainian grain exports via ‘solidarity lanes’ to other member states and third countries, according to the report. Exports via the solidarity lanes were mainly going to Romania, which had handled around 7M tonnes of Ukrainian grain, the EC said. Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria had taken 700,000 tonnes, 300,000 tonnes, 200,000 tonnes and less than 100,000 tonnes, respectively.

Ukraine’s government had condemned the restrictions as “categorically unacceptable”, World Grain wrote.

Against this backdrop, Ukraine’s Ministry of Renovation and Infrastructure was quoted as saying in a Reuters report on 2 June that Russia was again blocking the BSGI – brokered by the United Nations (UN) and Turkey – by halting the registration of ships to all Ukrainian ports.

“The Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul [which oversees the initiative] has announced that it is impossible to draw up an inspection plan for 1 June due to another unjustified refusal of the Russian delegation to register the incoming fleet for participation in the initiative,” the Ukrainian ministry said on Facebook.

A UN spokesman said Russia had informed officials overseeing the initiative that Moscow would limit registrations to the port of Pivdennyi, in Ukraine’s Odessa province, until all parties agreed to unblock the transit of Russian ammonia, the report said.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric was quoted as saying there had been a “continuous slowdown” in vessel departures under the BSGI from April to May and the average daily inspection rate for ships had dropped to three.

The Ukrainian ministry said Russia had registered only one incoming ship for inspection in the last two days of May and had given no explanation for the move, calling it a “gross violation” of the initiative.

Russia had not immediately commented on the ministry’s statement at the time of the report, Reuters wrote.