Espreso. Global

Diversification of logistics and export capacities: highlights of Zelenskyy's visit to Romania 

12 October, 2023 Thursday

At a joint briefing with President Klaus Iohannis, Zelenskyy announced good news regarding arms supplies and training for Ukrainian pilots. However, weapons were a secondary topic

The Resurgam Telegram channel made the following analysis.

The grain deal and the grain corridor

Romania, as a country, initially expressed readiness to lift the embargo on Ukrainian agricultural products on September 15. However, they later requested a 30-day extension through the European Commission and Ukraine to become more acquainted with the new mechanism proposed by Kyiv. This civilized approach led all parties to make concessions. Ukraine agreed  to the one-month extension and refrained from adding Romania to the WTO case. This one-month period is set to expire on October 17. Therefore, one of the objectives of Zelenskyy's visit is to ensure that all is well in this matter.

Grain corridor without Russia's participation 

The grain corridor, operating without Russia's involvement, is already in a testing phase and serves as a demonstration of its functionality.

The corridor is laid through Romanian territorial waters, and NATO air and naval forces from bases in Romania provide monitoring and cover. To what extent have these issues been resolved positively? There is no direct answer to these questions, but there is Zelenskyy's comment that relations with Romania are moving to a "strategic level" and "there is great progress and good sense."  

There is a third player in Ukraine-Romania relations: Moldova, which has received funds to expand its railroad capabilities and is interested in implementing these components and bringing Kyiv and Bucharest closer together. 

Establishing full-fledged military logistics from the south

Military aid logistics are typically flowing through the ports of the Baltic States and Central Europe, passing countries like Poland and Slovakia. However, there have been growing concerns about this route in recent times.

Hungary has been impeding military transit to Ukraine, while Slovakia remains uncertain about the situation. The logistics network in Poland is overwhelmed in both directions. Nonetheless, there is an alternative southern logistics route for military aid originating from Greek ports, passing through Bulgaria, and then Romania, before reaching the south-central region of Ukraine. Ukraine’s relations with Bulgaria have notably improved since the establishment of their new government, and Romania has become a "strategic partner." In essence, the goal is to diversify both logistics and interstate relations to mitigate political risks along the western border, decrease dependence on specific countries in light of political events, and enhance overall logistics capacity.

However, the problem with diversification was that the logistics route had a low throughput due to the cut-off and poor capacity of the Moldovan railroad, and the inconvenient location of Transnistria, which cut off logistics from Romania-Moldova towards Odesa. 

In total, there can be three railway routes in the conditional "southern logistics branch": through Bucharest-Chernivtsi (it is operational, but has capacity restrictions and longer logistics), through the Kuchurhan checkpoint (Tiraspol-Odesa railway line), which is cut off by the Transnistrian factor. There is also a branch from Romania through Moldova to Ukraine (Iași-Ungheni-Ocniţa), then a branch branches to Kamianets-Podilskyi, and another branch to Vinnytsia. 

Since April 2023, Ukrainian Railways company, Ukrzaliznytsia, has been involved in the modernization of 400 kilometers of railroad track in Moldova. Before unfounded claims like "Ukrainian company is repairing railroad lines in Moldova instead of Ukraine," it's important to note that the funds allocated for this project in Moldova were provided through Eurofunds, and Ukrzaliznytsia was selected as the contractor, receiving an order worth EUR 32 million. The entire length of 400 kilometers is planned to be completed by the end of 2024.

The current focus is on the initial phase of the project, covering the first 150 kilometers from Ukraine to the Ungheni border crossing in Moldova. This phase is expected to establish a connection between Ukraine’s Southern Railway through Moldova and the Romanian railway by the end of the year.

So, the third component of the meeting between Zelenskyy and Ioannis is obviously military logistics and the connection of this branch to the general railway system from the ports of Greece through Bulgaria, Romania, and Moldova to Ukraine.

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