Boris Johnson praised the “Dunkirk spirit” being shown to get grain out of Ukraine by any means available in order to alleviate the global food supply crisis.
With Russia’s Black Sea fleet blocking Ukraine’s ports, grain is at risk of rotting in silos unless it can get to markets around the world.
The UK has promised funding to repair Ukraine’s damaged railways to move grain overland, but Mr Johnson was struck by the ingenuity already being shown in the country.
“One of the things the PM has been struck by is people are talking about all kinds of smaller ways in which things are happening at the moment,” a government source said.
“Whether it’s boats on canals, lorries, railways, he saw a bit of the Dunkirk spirit. You can achieve a lot through small micro movements.
“It’s not a substitute for the mass transit of grain as it used to be shipped, but it’s not as if all the grains are sitting there about to rot and none of it is getting out.
“What is getting out is increasing week by week and so there are micro solutions as well as an exploration of a big solution.
“That is important as they’ve all been discussing the world needs it and the
more of it that is there, the lower prices go.
“But also because the Ukraine needs the money that it gets for selling that grain, so there’s a double hit for the world and Ukraine in not solving it, which is why it’s a big priority.”
The UK pledged £10 million to repair damaged Ukrainian rail infrastructure to create an overland route to get grain out of the country.
The Government will also put £1.5 million to develop a testing process to identify whether grain sold by Russia on the world market has been illegally taken from Ukraine.
Mr Johnson ultimately wants an international solution to get grain out of Ukraine by sea, something which is currently prevented by Russia’s blockade and mines deployed by both sides in the conflict.
The Prime Minister has played down the prospect of the Royal Navy being sent in to help merchant vessels beat the Russian blockade.
But he has said British expertise in “remote de-mining” and insurance of commercial shipping in contested waters could help vessels get the grain out by sea.