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Kiyv, Ukraine (Ports Europe) April 24, 2023 – The development of Ukraine’s Danube Port Cluster – Izmail, Reni and Ust-Dunaysk – with financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was discussed between Oleksandr Kubrakov, Deputy Prime Minister for Recovery of Ukraine and EBRD president, Odile Renaud-Basso.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, cargo transshipment via the three ports has increased more than three times. This followed the Russian blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and the occupation of the country’s Azov Sea ports.

“We see the prospect of cooperation on the development of the Danube Port Cluster. We started our work last year,” Kubrakov said.

Royal HaskoningDHV engineering consultancy, has developed a list of measures to increase the capacity of the Danube ports as part of a joint pilot project between the Ministry for Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development and the EBRD, which relates to investment, operational and regulatory changes in Ukraine, Moldova and Romania.

Undoubtedly, the Danube Cluster has become a critical element of global food security in the face of limited operation of the Black Sea ports. Through operational dredging in the ports of the Danube region we will restore their passport characteristics. In this way, we are reviving (Danube’s) Bystry (Bystroye, Bystroe, Bystre) estuary channel as an alternative route for Ukrainian agricultural exports”.


War-torn Ukraine has managed to increase the draft for vessels in the country’s section of the Danube River mouth to 6.5 m, local media reported in February. A year earlier, the maximum draft was 3.9 m. This will allow bigger ships to use Ukrainian ports in the river while Russia blocks Ukraine’s Azov and Black Sea ports.

According to the administration of the port of Izmail, the draft for vessels in the section from 0 km of the Bystroye mouth of the Danube to 77 km of the Kiliya mouth is 6.5 m, from 77 km to 116 km of the Kiliya mouth – 7 m.

“More than 17 million tonnes of cargo were exported from these ports, including more than 11 million tonnes of food,” Kubrakov said in February. He added that the Bystroye Estuary was opened for navigation, and dredging works are underway in the Ukrainian part of the Danube. Increasing the draft of ships ensures more efficient navigation between the Black Sea and the Danube River, as well as increases the cargo flow through the Danube ports.

Deepwater navigation canal Danube – Black Sea

The Kiliya mouth is the northern, most abundant branch of the Danube Delta. Its length is 116 km, width is from 0.6 to 1.2 km. The ports of Izmail, Kiliya and Vilkovo are located there. Since 2007, it has been part of the deep water shipping route of the Danube-Black Sea Canal.

The Deepwater Navigation Course Danube – Black Sea is a deep-water canal in the Danube Delta that runs through the Danube Delta estuaries (distributaries) Chilia, Starostambul (Old Istambul), Kiliya and Bystroye.

Most of its length coincides with the Romania-Ukraine border that stretches along the Danube. The canal is served by the Ukrainian state-owned Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority (USPA) and its piloting services branch Delta Lotsman (Delta Pilot).

Navigation on the Danube – Black Sea Canal has restarted in July 2022 after the liberation of Ukraine’s Snake Island in the Black Sea from the occupying Russian troops. Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

The small rock outcropping known as Snake Island (Zmiinyi Island) sits just 25 miles from the Bystry estuary’s mouth, and it had been occupied by a well-armed Russian garrison. A sustained barrage of Ukrainian artillery fire forced the occupying Russian troops to depart on June 30.

Ukraine revived its long-idled inland ports along the northern edge of the Danube River Delta. These shallow-draft inland ports now transship cargo by barge into Romania for onward transport and are also accessible from the Black Sea.

In July 2022, Romania allowed ships with Ukrainian grain, under flags of third countries to use the Kiliya (Chilia, Kiliiske) Canal and the Bystroe (Bastro, Bastroe, Bystre) Canal.

Joint projects with the EBRD

Ukraine’s Ministry for Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development is implementing a number of joint projects with the EBRD:

  • Development of the road sector within the framework of the project Development of the Trans-European Transport Network. Ukraine – Road Corridors. Cooperation with the EBRD is underway to include the M-09 Ternopil-Lviv-Rawa Ruska (to Lublin) and M-11 Lviv-Shehyni roads in the overhaul project. This will allow for improving logistics on Ukraine’s western borders.
  • Development of the railway network, including electrification of the railway network and meeting the basic needs of UkrZaliznytsia (state owned railway company) in times of war.
  • Development of UkrPoshta’s (state owned postal services operator) logistics network, including the purchase of vehicles, modernisation of sorting equipment and reopening of offices in the de-occupied territories.
  • UkSATSE (Ukrainian State Air Traffic Services Enterprise) has submitted a grant request to the EBRD and a list of potential projects to be funded. The projects are related to the preparation of air navigation infrastructure for the post-war resumption of flights.

More Ports Europe news about Ukrainian Danube River ports

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