Russia Banished From Membership in the Danube Commission

Grain trucks burn after a Russian attack on the Lower Danube port of Izmail, Ukraine, 2023 (Operational Command South)
Grain trucks burn after a Russian attack on the Lower Danube port of Izmail, Ukraine, 2023 (Operational Command South)

Published Mar 3, 2024 11:32 PM by The Maritime Executive


As western powers continue to sanction Russia for its ongoing war in Ukraine, the country has lost membership in the Danube Commission, effective March 1. This decision was adopted by member states last December during the commission’s 100th Jubilee Session.

“The Session took note of the systematic attacks by Russian Federation on the lower Danube region, which continually violate the fundamental principles of the Belgrade Convention. In this regard, the Danube States adopted a decision urging Russia to withdraw from Belgrade Convention until 29 February 2024, or failure to which, as of March 1, the Danube States will no longer consider themselves bound by the obligations of the Convention vis-à-vis Russia,” said a statement from the Commission.

The Danube Commission is one of the world’s oldest international organizations. Its main goals is to ensure and develop free navigation on the Danube River for merchant vessels flying the flags of its ten member states.

Beginning last year, Russia expanded its attacks to include Ukrainian port infrastructure on the Danube. Specifically, several Russian drone attacks in August and September struct Ukrainian grain facilities at the Danube River Port of Izmail, destroying over 10,000 metric tons of grain. Such actions contravene Belgrade Convention, according to the Commission.

Previously in March 2022, Russia’s powers at the Commission were terminated. The resolution meant Russian representatives were dismissed from the diplomatic and administrative-technical positions of the Secretariat of the Commission.

Although Ukrainian grain exports from the Black Sea ports have resumed through a special maritime corridor, the Danube route is still a critical alternative shipping route. Recently, the state-owned carrier Ukrainian Danube Shipping (UDP) announced it would expand its container shipping service to the Danube ports of Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany and Romania.