Written by: 电流声
Translated by: Ermat
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Thursday (May 26) that Russian President Vladimir Putin needed the West to lift sanctions on Russia to allow grain ships to leave Ukrainian ports, clearly using the food crisis to hold the world hostage for ransom . “It is shocking that Putin is holding the world for ransom, and he is effectively weaponizing hunger and food insecurity among the world’s poorest people,” Truss said Thursday in response to a question from reporters during a visit to Bosnia.
Russia is ready to set up a humanitarian corridor to allow ships carrying Ukrainian grain to leave as soon as some sanctions are lifted, Interfax news agency reported Wednesday, citing Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko. “We have made it clear many times on this point that a solution to the food problem requires a comprehensive programme, including the lifting of sanctions imposed on Russian exports and financial transactions,” Rudenko said.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, ports along Ukraine’s Black Sea coast have been blocked by Russian troops, and more than 20 million tons of grain have been trapped in grain storage silos across the country.
Both Russia and Ukraine are major grain exporters, with both countries accounting for almost a third of the world’s wheat exports. Ukraine’s inability to get ships carrying export grain out of its ports due to the Russian invasion and blockade has exacerbated the growing global food crisis, especially with the announcement of a ban on grain exports from India and the bad weather that has hit crops in North America and Europe.
Ukraine is also a major exporter of corn, barley, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil. Grain is Ukraine’s main export industry, having exported $12.2 billion worth of grain in 2021, about a fifth of the global supply.
Following Russia’s blockade of all Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, waterborne transport of exported grain has been completely blocked. And while grain deliveries by land are still taking place, the volume of grain delivered is modest and the cost is high.
“We must not allow this to happen. Putin needs to lift the blockade on Ukrainian food,” Truss said. There have previously been rumors in Britain that naval vessels could be sent to the Black Sea to escort grain ships out of ports such as Odessa. However, the British government said on Tuesday that there are no plans to send Royal Navy ships to the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, which is blockaded by Russian forces, to assist the grain ships to leave the port.
Odessa is a major deep-water port of Ukraine on the Black Sea coast. Interfax news agency quoted Ludenko on Wednesday as saying that if Western countries sent ships to escort Ukrainian grain ships out of port, “the situation in the Black Sea will be seriously deteriorated”.
America Supports Victims
According to the United Nations, Russia’s war in Ukraine has caused more than 5.7 million refugees to flee from Ukraine to neighboring countries, while about 7.7 million have been displaced within Ukraine.
A serious consequence of this war is that people around the world are left to starve while Russian President Vladimir Putin blows up farmland in Ukraine. The worst affected countries are in Africa and the Middle East, where food shortages already existed before the scourge of war hit Ukraine.
The United States announced on March 24 that it was ready to provide more than $1 billion in humanitarian aid to Ukraine and countries hosting refugees. U.S. aid will also support efforts to alleviate hardship caused by food shortages exacerbated by Putin’s war.
Since the crisis erupted in February, the United States has announced plans to provide assistance to
- More than $700 million in food aid to countries in need following Putin’s war on Ukraine, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan in the East Africa region, and Yemen.
- More than US$1.1 billion in emergency aid to the Lake Chad Basin region and the Sahara, where UN Secretary-General Antonio said rising food prices caused by the war against Ukraine threatened millions of people and could deepen their suffering, U.S. aid, which includes rice, grains, vegetable oils, and foods specially made to treat severe malnutrition, will support 3.8 million people.
- Nearly $64 million is being provided through the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to feed more than 740,000 people in Lebanon who are heavily dependent on wheat imports from Ukraine.