Russian failing attempts to export stolen Ukrainian grain from Berdyansk

Grain elevator in Berdyansk Trade Sea Port seized by Russian occupants. Photo: Russian telegram channel

Yevgen Balytsky, appointed by Russian occupants as the head of administration of Zaporizka oblast, informed that region was ready to supply new grain harvest to traditional markets – Turkey, Egypt and countries of Middle East. Russian collaborators persuade that 2 million tons are already harvested in Zaporizka oblast. Yevgen Balytsky promises that Berdyansk Port will be ready to load ships with grain harvest very soon, and farmers will be able to sell their grain to Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Middle East. It is told that around one million ton of grain will be harvested this autumn in Zaporizka oblast.

It is impossible to gather trustworthy information about the harvest. It is unlikely that farmers report reliable figures to “Russian liberators” on temporarily occupied territories. That is why we can use only approximate and comparative data. 

It is known that farmers harvested unprecedented crop of early cereals and legumes in 2021: 3.22 million tons were harvested, with average crop yield of 3.32 tons per hectare (2.77 tons per hectare in 2020). 

In 2021, 2.49 million tons of winter wheat, 331.5 thousand tons of winter barley and 130.5 tons of walnut were harvested on the territory of Zaporizka oblast.  

This year crops will be harvested only from one sixth of oblast area under winter cereals, in accordance with the preliminary data of legitimate Zaporizka oblast military administration. The rest of territories are occupied by Russians or are under permanent fire. As Ukrainian public officials believe, this harvest will be sufficient to provide oblast residents with bread. 

“This year harvest to last year harvest is like 1 to 10. Around 400-500 thousand tons will be harvested on the territory of oblast controlled by the Ukrainian government. Last year harvest amounted to 5 million tons”, as head of Zaporizka oblast military administration Oleksandr Starukh says. 

It is doubtful whether Russian occupation authorities will receive 1.5-2 million tons of grain on the temporarily occupied territory. First of all, a few farmers planted spring crops this year for a variety of reasons: military actions, shortage of fuel, robbery of agricultural equipment, massive escape of largest producers to the territory controlled by Ukraine. The climate of the Northern Azov region is specific: dry autumns and winters. That is why local farmers are not inclined to plant winter cereals. 

Stolen Ukrainian grain in Berdyansk Trade Sea Port seized by Russian occupants. Photo: Russian telegram channel

Second, the large scale robbery of local farmers forced them to be very cautious towards Russian occupants. It is unlikely Ukrainian farmers will provide occupants with reliable information about 2022 harvest. 

Third, delivery of grain has not yet started on occupied territories, though occupation authorities claim the opposite. Russian invaders propose extremely low prices and farmers would agree with them only under severe pressure. Occupation authorities try to involve private carriers for grain transportation because large transport companies or local branches of grain traders were robbed. However, the capacity of small carriers is very limited.

Berdyansk Trade Sea Port occupied by Russian occupants. Photo: Russian telegram channel

Russian collaborators seized grain elevator of “Nova Khortytsia” company and cargo complex of company “Asket Shipping” in Berdyansk Port, grain elevators of companies “Kernel”, “Optimus” and other grain traders. 

Occupants created company “State Grain Operator” (SGO) and urge farmers to bring their grain to company’s delivery points, in order to make “reserve of oblast” and export. However, their calls are futile. 

SGO established the following procurement prices on agricultural products: forage wheat – 6 thousand Russian Rubles, food wheat – 9 thousand Rubles, barley – 7 thousand Rubles per ton.

Queue of grain trucks to grain storage of LLC “Bizon” in Berdyansk. Autumn 2021. Photo:

“Local farmers are not satisfied with these prices. They try not to sell their grain and to keep it in the storage. They use open spaces to store their harvest”, as the Defence Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine reported. 

Before the Russian occupation, Ukrainian grain traders brought grain to Berdyansk Trade Sea Port from storage facilities in Berdyansk and Berdyansk raion. SGO determined seven grain delivery points – five in Berdyansk and two – in Pryshyby and Troyany elevators. The grain from two elevators was usually transported to Berdyansk and then, by grain carriers, to the port for loading. 

Today Berdyansk grain storage facilities are empty. Storage facilities seized from LLC “Asket Shipping” were robbed and are now closed.


The bakery factory at Gagarina Street (LLC “Bizon Import”) is empty.


There is no movement near two grain delivery points at the entrance to the Berdyansk Trade Sea Port.


Berdyansk residents have a sign: when the harvest is good, city pigeons are fat and slow, as all roadsides along grain transportation are full of fallen grain. Main city roads to the port and grain storages are packed by dozens and hundreds of grain carriers when there is a good harvest. 

Today Berdyansk roads are empty and clean. Russian occupants repaired some of them in advance. But just a few grain carriers can be observed in the city.


Balytsky announced that “Berdyansk Port would start its work soon and the loading of grain would be launched”. Russian propagandists broadcast videos about preparation of port for loading 4 million tons per year. They do not mention that designed capacity of the port is 2 million tons per year. The maximum capacity achieved by the port is 3.19 million tons in 2014. 

Today four from three port gates are closed and barricaded by reinforced concrete blocks. Railway gates are barricaded by concrete blocks and old diesel locomotive.


Before the Russian occupation, all port gates were open and used for entrance to the port territory. Long queues of grain trucks stood in front of each gate.

The train on the track of Berdyansk station. Photo:

Prospects for the renewal of work of Berdyansk Trade Sea Port are illusory. Majority of port personnel including qualified specialists (dockers, stevedores, crane operators) do not cooperate with occupants. Port equipment is useless without their skills. 

For example, grain loading complexes are an exclusive technology developed and built by “Asket Shipping” company. It stopped its work on the occupied territory. 

Occupants tried to bring dockers from Kerch to unload weapons and armored vehicles from amphibious assault ships but their efforts failed. 

It should be reminded that the Armed Forces of Ukraine successfully hit large amphibious assault ship “Saratov” in Berdyansk port on March 24. Since then, a handful of ship owners or operators dare to moor at the pier of Berdyansk port near remnants of the Russian assault ship.

Burning large amphibious assault ship “Saratov” in Berdyansk port; large amphibious assault ship “Tsesar Kunikov” stands in front of it, 24.03.2022. Photo: Youtube Кирилловка.Укр

Russian occupants managed to make propaganda video with loading of two ships with old loader and that was all they could do. Three modern and powerful loaders were stolen after Russian occupation of the port.

“Farmers are forced to transfer their grain to occupants. Farmers are very reluctant to do it as next year they will not be able to plant new crops without fuel, fertilizers etc.”, as Oleksandr Starukh says.

Thus, Balytsky and Moscow propagandists are lying about wonderful prospects of the Berdyansk Port for exporting the grain to “traditional countries”. The only option is to transport stolen grain by railways to Russia where Ukrainian grain will be mixed with Russian and then exported. 

Meanwhile, Russian occupants make propaganda attempts to use Berdyansk Port for grain export. Unknown ship moored on September 19 at the pier of “Nova Khortytsia” seized by “State Grain Operator”… 

This material is created under the support of the Council of Europe. The views expressed in the material are the responsibility of its authors; they may not reflect the official policy of the Council of Europe.