KYIV, UKRAINE — Unilateral restrictions on grain imports imposed by three eastern European Union countries are likely to draw a challenge from Ukraine at the World Trade Organization, Reuters reported.

Ukraine is expected to sue Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, “in the near future,” a senior Ukrainian official said on Monday. Ukraine has been struggling to export its grain since Russia’s February 2022 invasion and subsequent blockade of its ports. Alternative land routes through Europe have aided exports, particularly since the July collapse of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which had helped safely export grain via the Black Sea.

Restrictions imposed by the EU in May allowed Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia to ban domestic sales of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower seeds, while permitting transit of such cargoes for export elsewhere.

Poland, Slovakia and Hungary announced their own restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports on Sept. 15 after the executive European Commission decided not to extend its ban on imports into Ukraine’s five EU neighbors. The three countries said they were acting to protect their farmers and economies from plummeting commodity prices due to the influx of grain in their domestic markets.

The EU allowed its ban to expire after Ukraine said it would take measures to tighten control of exports to neighboring countries, including a system of “real time” export licenses for grain. 

Farm ministry data showed 1.4 million tonnes of Ukrainian farm goods left the country by train in the first three months of the 2023-24 July-June season out of a total export volume of 4.5 million tonnes. Ukraine ships grain by train via crossings with Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. Ukraine also shipped by rail an additional 1 million tonnes of oils and oilseeds.