The international community must act to end a Russian blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports that threatens to trigger a global food shortage, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned.
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Moscow’s invading forces have “fired” at the southern Ukrainian port of Odessa in recent days, Al Jazeera reported. After airstrikes on Monday that “hit a shopping center and a depot, killed one person and injured five others,” Zelenskyy said, “for the first time in decades, there is no normal movement of the merchant fleet, no normal port is operating in Odessa.” .
“Probably this has never happened in Odessa since World War II,” he continued in a video address. And “without our agricultural exports, dozens of countries in different parts of the world are already on the brink of food shortages.”
Kyiv would be cut off from the Black Sea “through which more than 70% of its cargo is exported” if Russia “could conquer southern Ukraine and connect the Russian-occupied parts of the Donbass region with the breakaway small state of Transnistria in Moldova,” it said The economist.
So far, the “naval aspect of this discussed attack has stalled”.
Moscow has deployed about 20 warships and submarines in the Black Sea, but “its ability to launch a naval offensive or land troops has been limited by Ukrainian missiles.” Defenders of the besieged country pulled off a major coup in mid-April when Neptun missiles sank the Moskova, “a warship that was one of the crown jewels of the Russian Navy,” the newspaper added.
Russia has since shifted to targeting land infrastructure. EU Council President Charles Michel was shown “silos full of grain, wheat and corn” that cannot be exported in Odessa during a visit this week to hold talks with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, who was “interrupted by a missile attack,” Al Jazeera reported .
“This much-needed food has been stranded because of the Russian war and the blockade of Black Sea ports, with dramatic consequences for vulnerable countries,” Michel told reporters.
Echoing Zelenskyy’s request, Michel said that “a global response” was needed to end the siege and reopen export links.
Dodge the blockage
The EU has suggested that food could be exported from Ukraine “by land”. Politically called. The bloc plans to “significantly increase” the amount of food the “agricultural heavyweight” can deliver to nations “via EU roads and rails.”
EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski told the news site that it was “necessary to organize alternative corridors for export, especially for wheat and corn, because Ukraine has a lot of stocks”. The “main solution” are corridors to Poland’s Baltic Sea ports, he said.
In a “strong warning,” Wojciechowski outlined how a blockade could allow Russia to “steal Ukraine’s share of world markets for commodities like corn and wheat” while trying to “gloss over its image as a charitable provider to poor countries.” so the news site reported.
“This is Russian propaganda,” said the commissar. “They are intentionally destroying Ukrainian [agricultural] Potential… and the next steps will be for them to be friends of the world and present themselves as saviors.”
The invasion of Ukraine also threatens to exacerbate global food shortages.
Russia “gasps under Western sanctions” and “finds it difficult to operate as an exporter,” he said The times’ Diplomatic Editor Roger Boyes.
Moscow is struggling to “replenish its garrison in Syria,” he wrote. But unless Ukraine is able to “break the Putin blockade,” the rest of the world could also “face a critical food shortage that is pushing some regions to the brink of famine.”
Whether Russia is able to step up its naval attack on Ukraine from the Black Sea will depend on the Montreux Convention, a 1936 treaty that “regulates maritime traffic through the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus,” The Economist said.
Both straits, which connect the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, are controlled by Turkey, which in late February “applied the Montreux Rules to prevent Russia from sending new warships to the Black Sea.”
The move “was seen as largely symbolic” as “Russia already seemed to have enough ships in the sea to overwhelm Ukraine’s defences,” the newspaper reported. But with the invasion stalled, “Turkey’s move seems to have had a decisive effect.”
As the struggle to seize the Donbass region continues, Kyiv must pray that Istanbul will continue to enforce the Montreux Rules and effectively blockade Russia’s naval power. But in the meantime, “the West needs to break the Black Sea blockade,” said The Times’ Boyes.
Russia and Ukraine together account for “30% of world wheat exports,” he continued, so a blockade of Kyiv’s key export threatens to trigger “higher food prices around the world.” That World Food Program of the United Nations has already warned that the world has not faced a humanitarian situation of this gravity since World War II.
The UK and its allies “should reconsider” and respond to Zelenskyy’s call for help in order to break the Black Sea blockade, Boyes added.
Anything else, he warned, would give Vladimir Putin the power to “threaten millions with starvation.”
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/russia/956706/why-black-sea-is-key-russia-ukraine-invasion Why the Black Sea is the key to the Russian invasion of Ukraine