Against the grain: Global food shortages loom as Ukraine’s supply line remains blocked

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has meant millions of tons of staple food crops remain stuck in the country – with potentially disastrous consequences for the rest of the world too

A Ukrainian national flag flies from the roof of a combine harvester in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, during peacetime: the country was once renowned as the breadbasket of the USSR and remained a huge exporter of grain until Russia’s invasion in February. Picture: Bloomberg

Behind the scenes in Brussels, EU civil servants are busy working out how to solve one of the greatest logistical challenges the continent has faced in modern times – how to move millions of tons of grain and oilseeds out of Ukraine by land.

The country is one of the world’s largest exporters of key grain and oilseeds commodities, accounting for up to 20 per cent of global grain trade. In a normal year, the ...