TALLINN - Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas, together with the transport ministers of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, met with the Ukrainian transport minister to discuss the possibility of creating new transport corridors on the Baltic Sea, as Russia has blocked Black Sea and Azov Sea ports belonging to Ukraine.
In particular, the Ukrainian minister of transport wants to find opportunities to export grain and metal products to the world market. Due to the specifics of the goods, the ports of the Baltic Sea could be used, transporting goods to the ports mainly by rail. Ukraine's annual grain exports are tens of millions of tons per year.
According to Aas, the Baltic states and Poland were immediately ready to have a meeting with Ukraine on that topic in order to find opportunities for the export of these goods through their ports. "The will is there, but there are quite a few technical challenges to overcome here in order to transport the goods in the volume requested by the Ukrainians," the minister said.
In particular, the bottlenecks of border crossings on the railway should be addressed in order to get more trains running. The different track gauges of the railways also make the overall picture more varied and the question of finding suitable rolling stock is also in the air. For example, state-owned logistics and transport company Operail has more than 400 open wagons and platforms in Poland and Ukraine, which are currently covered by contracts in the region. "We want to help Ukraine in every way, and we have started to map possible rolling stock that could be used to transport goods from Ukraine. In parallel, we have recently come ever closer with Latvia and Lithuania to putting the so-called amber train into operation. Ukraine's wish could further accelerate this process," Operail CEO Raul Toomsalu said.
"Now would be high time to launch a regular freight train between the three Baltic states, which could also successfully serve various Ukrainian goods if necessary. Acting quickly with Latvian and Lithuanian partners and concluding agreements is more important today than ever before," Aas said.
The Baltic states and Poland will continue to work with the transport sector, in particular the railway and port authorities, to find ways to resolve bottlenecks and provide services to Ukraine.