According to a Reuters report, Ukraine wants to begin work to make its Danube shipping canal deeper as early as this year to expand its alternative routes to export grain, Deputy Minister of Renovation and Infrastructure Yuriy Vaskov said on Tuesday.

Ukraine, which was invaded by Russia last year, has already increased the depth of its southwestern Bystre Canal on the Danube River to 6.5 metres from 3.9 metres with the aim of increasing food exports from its river ports.

The push for alternative export routes has taken on urgency during the war after Russia blocked Ukraine's traditional export route via the Black Sea and only a limited volume is shipped out under a deal mediated by Turkey and the United Nations.

Vaskov told a grain conference on Tuesday that the new depth of the Bystre Canal allowed ships to stop at Ukraine's Danube ports, but that it was still not enough for loaded ships that have to use Romania's Sulina Canal, which is deeper.

He said Ukraine would like to extend the depth to 7.2 meters, similar to the Romanian canal, and intended to hold talks with European Union officials on the matter in the near future.

Read the full report here.