The UN is calling on Vladimir Putin to lift the blockade on ships from Ukraine exporting grain around the world amid fears it could cause the worst global famine on record
Image: Ukrai State Emergency Service)
Russia wants sanctions reviewed before it is ready to avoid a terrible global famine by ending its blockade of Ukrainian ports.
Millions of lives are at risk in what may be the worst famine on record as tons of grain wait to be picked up by ships from Black Sea ports in southern Ukraine, but Russia is not allowing access.
Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain producers, used to export most of its goods through its seaports, but since Russia sent troops to Ukraine, it has been forced to export by train or through its small ports on the Danube.
UN food chief David Beasley warned the UN Security Council in March that the World Food Program buys 50% of its grain from Ukraine and that the war is threatening WFP’s ability to feed some 125 million people worldwide.
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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also said that 36 countries count on Russia and Ukraine for more than half of their wheat imports, including some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and the Democratic Republic Congo.
Appealing to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Beasley said: “If you have any heart at all, please open these ports.”
He added: “This is not just about Ukraine. This is about the poorest of the poor who are on the brink of starvation as we speak.”
But Interfax quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko as saying sanctions against his country were behind the crisis.
He said: “It is necessary not only to appeal to the Russian Federation, but also to deal in depth with the whole complex of reasons that caused the current food crisis, and first of all these are the sanctions imposed by the United States on Russia and the EU interfering with normal free trade, which includes foodstuffs such as wheat, fertilizers and others.”
Russia’s decision to send its troops to Ukraine almost three months ago has prevented Ukraine from using its main ports on the Black Sea and Sea of Azov and cut its grain exports by more than half this month from a year earlier.
Russia and Ukraine together account for almost a third of global wheat shipments. Ukraine is also a major exporter of corn, barley, sunflower oil and canola oil, while Russia and Belarus — which has backed Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine and is also under sanctions — account for more than 40% of global exports of the plant nutrient potash .
UN Secretary-General Guterres said on Wednesday he was in “intensive contact” with Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, the US and the EU to restart Ukrainian exports.
“I’m hopeful, but there’s still a long way to go,” said Guterres, who visited Moscow and Kyiv late last month. “The complex security, economic and financial implications require goodwill on all sides.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/ukraine-war-set-claim-millions-27015474 War in Ukraine will claim millions of lives in worst global famine, UN warns - World News