Zelensky warns of ‘starvation catastrophe’, accuses Russia of blocking Ukrainian grain exports

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned of famine and starvation as a “disaster”, accusing Russia of blocking food exports from his war-torn country – which the US calls “destroying the Ukrainian people” spirit” effort.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week, Zelensky said Russian troops were preventing Ukraine from exporting 22 million tonnes of food, including “our grains, barley, sunflowers and more.”

“If we don’t export in the next few months, if there is no political deal with Russia through the middleman — There will be famine, there will be disasterthere will be deficits, there will be high prices,” Zelensky said.

In early May, Ukraine closing its four ports – Mariupol, Berdyansk and Skadovsk in the Sea of ​​Azov, and Kherson in the Black Sea – “until control is restored”. Some ports were occupied by Russian troops, while others were blocked.

President Vladimir Zelensky in a grey T-shirt addresses a large audience on a video screen in Davos.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned of a “disaster” for the global food supply during a video conference on May 23 at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. (Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

At Davos, Zelensky said: “You can unblock them in different ways. One of them is a military solution. That’s why we asked our partners about weapons.”

Russia’s war against Ukraine caused a global chain reaction: it disrupts supply chains and facilitates Fuel prices soar Food and fertilizers are scarce.food and agriculture organization of the united nations april says Russia’s war against Ukraine was the main reason for the 17.1% rise in prices of wheat, barley, corn and other grains.

At the United Nations Security Council meeting on May 19, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken accusing Russia of weaponizing food And holding food “destroys the spirit of the Ukrainian people”.

Blinken said the U.S.-convened meeting came at a “time of unprecedented global hunger” fueled by climate change and COVID-19, where “conflict has made things worse.”

Blinken said Russia has been trying to control Ukrainian ports and access to the Black and Azov Seas since the invasion in February, in what he called a “deliberate effort” to shut down shipping and block any safe passage.

“As a result of the actions of the Russian government, more people around the world are experiencing food insecurity as global food supplies have soared and prices have soared, with about 20 million tons of unused food in Ukrainian granaries,” he said.

Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzya, described the allegations as “absolutely false”.

“You claim that we are allegedly preventing agricultural products from being shipped out of Ukraine by sea,” Nebenzya said. “However, the fact is that Ukraine, not Russia, blocked 75 ships from 17 regions at the port of Nikolayev [known as Mykolaiv in Ukraine]Kherson, Chernomorsk, Mariupol, Ochakov, Odessa and Yuzhny, and mining was carried out on the waterway.

Russian soldiers patrol a street in Berdyansk.

Russian soldiers patrol a street near the port of Berdyansk on April 30. (Andrey Borodulin/AFP via Getty Images)

“Unless this issue is resolved, we cannot talk about any opportunity to export Ukrainian grain by sea,” he warned.

The U.S. has few options to help end the Russian blockade.General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted at a press conference on Monday U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. has no ships in the Black Sea.

“I think it’s very important for Ukraine’s economy, and many countries in the world depend on Ukraine for food,” he told reporters.

“Right now, it’s a bit of a stalemate [in the Black Sea region] He said the Ukrainians wanted to ensure there would be no amphibious landings of any kind against Odessa, its main port.

A green wheat field in Ukraine.

A wheat field in Ukraine. (Rick Mave/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

at the same time, Russia itself would benefit from blocking Ukrainian exports; As it is a major producer of grain, wheat production is expected to hit a record high, according to Nebenzya. He said Russia could offer to export 25 million tonnes of grains through the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk from August 1 to the end of 2022.

The UN ambassador went on to blame more than 10,000 sanctions on Russia for disrupting shipping routes, barring Russian ships from ports and causing other problems.

“If you don’t want to lift the sanctions you chose, why are you accusing us of causing this food crisis?” he asked. “Why do your irresponsible geopolitical games make the poorest countries and regions suffer?”

In a recent statement, G7 foreign ministers urged Russia to “immediately cease attacks on Ukraine’s critical transport infrastructure, including ports.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday He has expressed a willingness to boost grain and fertilizer exports, but only if sanctions on Russia are lifted.