April 15, 2024

(Bloomberg) — Ukraine’s leadership is bracing for an escalation of Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure as cold weather approaches and the Kremlin continues to throttle the nation’s grain exports, the country’s deputy premier said.

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“People are preparing for a severe winter,” Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Tuesday. The blockade of Ukrainian ports is a “situation of survival” for the embattled nation’s economy, while Russia’s conditions for restarting a deal to secure Black Sea commerce are “impossible,” she said.

With the Black Sea export channel disrupted, Ukraine has had to shift to costlier river, rail and road routes through the European Union. The government in Kyiv moved this week to challenge unilateral grain-import bans imposed by three of the EU neighbors — Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.

Ukraine reached a preliminary agreement with Romania, while Bulgaria joined the EU in lifting the restrictions.

“We are operating in times of war, understanding that these five countries are the only available area of exporting and releasing the grain products to the whole world,” Stefanishyna said, adding that Ukrainian grain doesn’t threaten Poland’s domestic market.

The deputy premier, who’s in charge of Ukraine’s European integration, said Poland is continuing its political support for Ukraine’s European aspirations and defense.

–With assistance from Daryna Krasnolutska and Olesia Safronova.

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