Eliminating bureaucratic limitations will allow the Ukrainian military, NGO community to receive much-needed demining training in order to help grain once again flow via the Black Sea.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) successfully included her bipartisan provision to cut bureaucratic red tape within the Department of Defense (DoD) and accelerate demining training for Ukrainians in the FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed through the Senate Armed Services Committee. By eliminating bureaucratic limitations on these trainings, Ukraine should be able to expedite grain trade out of the Black Sea.
As of March, Russia has placed over 400 mines in the Black Sea, making commercial travel to Ukrainian ports nearly impossible. Similarly, Russia has also planted land mines on farms, making replanting and agriculture operations nearly impossible. The lack of access to Ukrainian ports and farm land has caused the world to face a global grain crisis, risking the starvation of tens of millions of people in almost 50 different countries.
“Putin is waging a food war by blockading Ukrainian ports and prohibiting commercial travel by riddling shipping lanes and farm land with mines,” said Senator Ernst. “Cutting bureaucratic red tape and allowing the United States to better support Ukrainians in demining the Black Sea and farm land can ultimately help expedite grain to the millions of people around the world who depend on it. I’m glad to see broad bipartisan support for this effort in the Senate’s annual defense bill.”
In February, the State Department suspended demining training in Ukraine due to the unprovoked Russian attacks. Currently, DoD policies have geographical limits on where demining training can be conducted, restricting trainings only to countries where the demining will occur. Trainings are also prohibited in active warzones. Ernst’s effort expands the DoD’s leeway to decide where underwater demining training is conducted, allowing for Ukrainians to receive the necessary training in allied countries like Germany.