IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


17th August, 2023 Geography

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The recent drone strikes conducted by Russia on ports and grain storage facilities along the Danube river in Ukraine.


  • Russia conducted drone strikes on Ukrainian ports and grain storage facilities along the Danube river.
  • The Danube delta provided an alternative route for Ukrainian grain after Russia exited the Black Sea grain deal.

Significance of the Danube Delta

  • The Danube delta offers a trade route for Ukrainian grain shipments after the Black Sea grain deal.
  • The deal facilitated secure passage for cargo ships from Ukrainian Black Sea ports (Odessa, Chornomorsk, Pivdennyi) via the Danube delta.

Importance of the Sulina Channel

  • The Sulina Channel, a 63 km distributary of the Danube, is crucial for the 'new' trade route.
  • It connects major Ukrainian river ports to the Black Sea, entirely within Romania's borders (a NATO member).

Ukraine's Grain Export and Economic Dependency

  • Ukraine is a significant global grain exporter, known as the "breadbasket of Europe."
  • Its economy heavily relies on agricultural exports, making the grain trade vital.

Trade Route Path and Operation

  • The Danube river's role in freight movement is historical and important.
  • The Sulina Channel is the only deep and wide channel suitable for freight transport.
  • Ships carrying grain depart from Ukrainian ports (Izmail, Reni), head to Sulina, then to Constanta, Romania's major seaport.
  • From Constanta, grain is transferred to larger ships for Black Sea to Mediterranean transit under NATO protection.

Challenges and Constraints

  • Russian targeting of Ukrainian ports and grain facilities threatens the route's stability.
  • Ukrainian ports' capacity to handle sudden grain volume is limited due to reliance on rail and Black Sea ports.
  • Congestion at the mouth of the Sulina Channel leads to significant shipping delays.

Proposed Solutions and Considerations

  • Romania's transport minister suggests transporting grain from Ukraine to Romanian ports via rail.
  • This solution may incur financial losses for Ukraine due to loading fees and expenses.
  • Congestion issues at the Sulina Channel's mouth contribute to shipping delays.

Vulnerability and Potential Solutions

  • Russian attacks on Ukrainian grain facilities raise concerns about the trade route's viability.
  • The Danube delta's significance for Ukraine's grain export underscores the need for security measures and capacity enhancements.
  • Exploring alternative transportation methods and addressing congestion can contribute to maintaining grain exports and economic stability for Ukraine.


Q) Consider the following statements:

  1. The Sulina Channel is a distributary of the Volga River, connecting Ukraine to the Black Sea.
  2. The Sulina Channel is located entirely within the borders of Ukraine and plays a key role in its freshwater transportation system.

Select the correct answer using the codes below:

(a)    1 only

(b)    2 only

(c)     Both 1 and 2

(d)    Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: D