A grain glut leaves some Eastern European nations caught between solidarity with Ukraine and survival.

Published: April 25, 2023

After greater than a yr of surprisingly stable European unity in assist of Ukraine, grains of discord are piling up within the barn of Robert Vieru, a Romanian farmer with 500 tons of wheat and 250 tons of sunflower seeds now sitting unsold due to cut-price Ukrainian competitors.

A glut of Ukrainian cereals and different produce has practically halved the worth for the outcomes of Mr. Vieru’s labors and left farmers throughout Eastern and Central Europe — and their governments, most of which face elections this yr or subsequent — caught between solidarity with Ukraine and their very own survival.

“I feel sad for them but my heart breaks for myself,” Mr. Vieru mentioned of Ukrainians residing throughout the close by border in Romania’s Danube River delta, as he opened the sliding door of a concrete barn, crammed to the brim with final yr’s unsold harvest.

Prices have been pushed so low by a flood of low-cost meals from Ukraine, he mentioned, that promoting would imply incomes lower than he paid to supply his crops.

Mr. Vieru’s plight, shared by farmers in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria, circulation from the unintended penalties of fine intentions gone awry.

Market forces, turbocharged by profiteering, have turned an bold effort by the European Union to assist Ukraine export its harvest and ease what the United Nations described final yr as an “unprecedented global hunger crisis” right into a supply of political division and financial misery in Europe’s previously communist jap lands.

The mess has not erased sturdy public assist for Ukraine, not less than not but, however it has created a gap for far-right teams that favor Russia, generated critical frictions inside the European bloc and soured moods in a area that had been a bastion of principally unflagging assist for Ukraine. A proposal from the European Commission of 100 million euros to compensate farmers has accomplished little to assuage the tensions.

With the exception of Hungary, whose populist prime minister, Viktor Orban, has typically cozied as much as Russia, the nations hit hardest by the competitors are amongst Ukraine’s most stalwart European allies. Poland, Romania and Slovakia have offered weapons and army coaching.

Over the previous week, nevertheless, all 5 nations have imposed tight restrictions on importing Ukrainian grain, with solely Romania stopping wanting an outright ban.

“We are the last man standing,” Romania’s transport minister, Sorin Grindeanu, mentioned in an interview.

Source web site: www.nytimes.com