Urges Russia to lift blockade on Ukrainian ports to prevent ‘disaster’

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The foreign ministers of seven countries have appealed to Russia to clear sea export routes for Ukrainian grain and agricultural products, which is important to feed the world, as food prices have risen and the World Food Program has warned of “catastrophic” consequences if Ukrainian ports are blocked.

“We should not be innocent. Russia has now expanded its war against Ukraine into a “grain war” in many states, “German Foreign Minister Analina Bearbak told a news conference after the G8 summit on Saturday. “It’s not a parallel loss, it’s a tool of a hybrid war aimed at weakening solidarity against the Russian war.”

Bearback, who hosted a three-day gathering of top diplomats in Weisenhaus, Germany, said the group was looking for alternatives to transport grain outside Ukraine because of the threat of a global hunger crisis.

Without Ukrainian grain, up to 50 million people could face starvation next month, Bearback said, according to the Associated Press. About 28 million tons of grain are stuck in Ukrainian ports besieged by Russian forces.

Due to the conflict in Ukraine, some countries are looking at India as a source of alternative crops. But after taking steps to expand its agri-export industry, India on Friday banned wheat exports citing its own food security concerns.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, they have occupied the port city of Mariupol, where Russian forces have surrounded the last remaining Ukrainian fighters at the Azovstal steel plant.

Russia has also taken control of the Kherson region of the Black Sea, and has fired missiles at Odessa, a major Ukrainian port city. During the war, Ukraine closed its ports in late February, and Russian warships and floating mines prevented them from reopening.

Ukraine’s wheat crop, which feeds the world, cannot leave the country

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday that there had probably been no such stalemate in port operations in Ukraine since World War II. Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said on Friday that Ukraine was willing to take part in talks with Russia to cut off grain supplies but that his government had received “no positive response” from Moscow officials, the AP reported.

David Bisley, head of the UN World Food Program, spoke with US lawmakers and Biden administration officials in Washington this week to stress the need to reopen ports and address the global food crisis.

Ukraine produces enough food to feed 400 million people annually, and according to the World Food Program, 30 percent of the world’s wheat supply comes from Russia and Ukraine.

“Ports are important for global food security,” Bisley told the Washington Post. “It would be catastrophic if we did not keep those ports open and move food supplies around the world.”

On an average working day, about 3,000 trains load grain Arrive at Ukrainian ports, where they are stored in silos and, in peacetime, across the Black Sea and through the Bosphorus and then shipped around the world, Bisle said. With exports closed, the silo is full – meaning there is no place to store grain from the next crop, due to July and August.

The impact of the blockade will be felt in both rich and poor countries, Bisley said, and it is already affecting market volatility. Prices of wheat, cooking oil and other commodities have reached record highs due to the war, and the US Department of Agriculture estimates that global wheat supplies will decline next crop year.

Countries in the Middle East and Africa are particularly dependent on Ukrainian crops. According to UN figures, Egypt gets 75 to 85 percent of its wheat supplies from Ukraine and Russia. More than 60 percent of Lebanon’s wheat comes from Ukraine. Somalia and Benin depend on Russia and Ukraine for their imported wheat.

The United Nations has warned that food insecurity could exacerbate conflicts and economic crises in the region.

Tunisia is one of the countries that has seen the biggest economic consequences of the war in Ukraine

The cost of managing the World Food Program to help the same number of people has risen to more than $ 70 million per month due to rising food prices, Bisley said. The program, which provides food aid to 125 million people a day, needs to further scale rations. In Yemen, which has been facing an acute hunger crisis for years, the program has already halved the food rations of 8 million people.

“We are running out of money, prices are killing us, we are billions less and now we have to decide which children will eat, which will not, which children will live, which children will die. That’s not right, “said Beasley.

The World Food Program, which buys half of its wheat from Ukraine, has asked Congress for অতিরিক্ত 5 billion in additional international food aid. An emergency funding package for Ukraine that includes that aid was passed in the House on Tuesday night, but a vote in the Senate was pushed to next week.

Russia has stepped up missile attacks in Odessa this week, raising new concerns about port security. In a statement on Saturday, the G8 foreign ministers called on Russia to “immediately stop attacking Ukraine’s vital transport infrastructure, including ports.”

Bisle, who visited Odessa this month after the city came under attack, said it was encouraging that the Russian attack had not yet targeted the actual port infrastructure there.

Russia, a major grain producer and the world’s top wheat exporter, will benefit from continuing to disrupt Ukraine’s exports. G-7 ministers pledged on Saturday that sanctions against Russia “would not target the necessary exports of food and agricultural inputs to developing countries.”

The G-7 consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Countries have pledged to increase their contributions to the World Food Program and other relief agencies.

Ukraine has also accused Russia of deliberately attacking Ukraine’s grain plantations and stealing grain from occupied territories for export. A State Department spokesman confirmed to The Post that the Russian attack had damaged at least six grain storage facilities in eastern Ukraine.

Bisle, meanwhile, said he was “calling on every friend I know to have any influence with Russia” to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin for permission to resume grain shipments from Ukraine.

The G-7 ministers said on Saturday that they were looking at other options for getting Ukrainian grain in the countries needed, including the establishment of “Agricultural Solidarity Lane”. The European Commission on Thursday drafted a plan to create such transport corridors, which would facilitate land shipments of Ukrainian grain to Europe.

Trucks and trains can only carry a fraction of the grain that is usually shipped from Ukrainian ports, Bisle said. And Russia continues to attack train lines and transport infrastructure across Ukraine. However, Dr. Bearback Saturday That “every ton we can get out will go a long way in overcoming this hunger crisis,” the Financial Times reported.

“The situation we’re in is calculated every week,” Bayerbock said.

Victoria Bessett and John Hudson contributed to this report.

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