Turbulent Waters in the Black Sea

While the War in Ukraine Rages On, the Battle for Maritime Routes Becomes More Expensive, More Russian and More Important Than Ever

29 April 2022

Ognyan Georgiev

Marcin Król Fellow

Russia is taking control of the Black Sea and transit through the area is both more costly and dangerous. New routes are opening up but will they be solutions to the trade crisis already unfolding?

‘Our ports are mined and blocked, we can’t export our grain, corn, sunflower oil. We need to find alternatives and Bulgaria can be that alternative’. Those were the words of the Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba while on a visit to Sofia last week. They got lost amongst the (inexplicable) hysteria surrounding the topic of transferring arms to Ukraine, yet they are rather important.

Ukraine is one of the top producers of grains and other foods in the world. The Russian War has basically rendered the upper third of the Black Sea unusable for commercial purposes and has made the rest of it drastically more expensive than just two months ago. This has several implications.

First, it will add to food shortages and price inflation all over the world. Second, it impedes countries and companies around the Black Sea from doing business. And third, it has suddenly shown what a large vulnerability the reliance on the maritime trade routes can be in a closed basin such as this one.


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Ognyan Georgiev

Marcin Król Fellow

Marcin Król Fellow at Visegrad Insight. A long-time reporter and editor in the leading Bulgarian business publication Capital, and currently head Kapital Insights - the English language service for Bulgarian politics, business and economy. He follows regional development, economy, cities and European funding. Georgiev is a Robert Bosch Stiftung and Fulbright alumni, and spent a year in MIT, researching urban migration. Interests include city planning, urban migration and remigration to Central and Eastern Europe, as well as regional and intraregional development.


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