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UN asks Russia to end the blockade of ships from Ukraine

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The UN is asking Vladimir Putin to stop blocking ships from Ukraine that export grain to the rest of the world as it could lead to the worst global famine ever.

Russia wants sanctions assessed before removing its blockade of Ukraine’s ports in order to avoid a global famine.

Millions of people are at risk in what may be the world’s greatest famine, as ships await grain from Black Sea ports in Ukraine’s south, but Russia refuses to allow access.

Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain producers, used to export the majority of its goods via seaports, but since Russia’s invasion, it has been obliged to export by train or through its minor Danube River ports.

In March, David Beasley, who is in charge of food for the UN, told the UN Security Council that the World Food Program bought half of its grain from Ukraine and that the war was making it harder for the WFP to feed 125 million people around the world.

According to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, 36 nations, including some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, rely on Russia and Ukraine for more than half of their wheat imports, including Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mr. Beasley pleaded with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying: “If you have any heart at all, please open these ports.

“This is not just about Ukraine. This is about the poorest of the poor who are on the brink of starvation as we speak.”

However, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko was quoted by Interfax as saying that the issue was caused by sanctions against his country.

He said: “You have to not only appeal to the Russian Federation but also look deeply at the whole complex of reasons that caused the current food crisis and, in the first instance, these are the sanctions that have been imposed against Russia by the US and the EU that interfere with normal free trade, encompassing food products including wheat, fertilisers and others.”

Russia’s decision to send soldiers into Ukraine almost three months ago has prohibited Ukraine from accessing its major ports on the Black and Azov seas, resulting in a more than 50% reduction in grain shipments this month compared to a year ago.

Together, Russia and Ukraine produce about a third of the world’s wheat. Ukraine is also a major exporter of corn, barley, sunflower oil, and rapeseed oil, with Russia and Belarus accounting for more than 40% of global exports of the agricultural nutrient potash.

In an effort to revive Ukrainian exports, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that he is in “intense contact” with Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.

“I am hopeful, but there is still a 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.”

Image Credit: Getty

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