Ukrainian grain exports are blocked after Russian troops occupied huge parts of southeastern Ukraine by the black sea. As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drags on, holding wheat exports hostage could have a devastating impact, specifically in the Middle East and Africa.
As per the reports, the Ukrainian government has accused Russia of having stolen up to 500,000 tons of Ukrainian wheat, worth $100 million, since its invasion of Ukraine.
In May, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia of using food as a weapon of war. The EU joined the US in blaming Russia for global food shortages at a UN Security Council meeting on Monday, causing the Russian UN ambassador to storm out of the room.
EU Council chief Charles Michel said that Russia is using food shortages as a “stealth missile” against the developing world. Russian UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, rejected the claim. Yet the war has left supplies of primary ingredients stranded in Ukrainian ports.
“Let’s be honest, the Kremlin is using food supplies as a stealth missile against developing countries,” Michel said during the Security Council meeting in New York.
“The dramatic effects of Russia’s war are spilling over around the globe, and this is pushing up food prices, pushing people into poverty, & destabilising entire regions… Russia is completely responsible for this food crisis.”
Michel added that he had seen with his own eyes how Russia’s naval blockade had prevented the wheat exports from leaving Odessa. He accused Russia of stealing grain and preventing crops from sowing and harvesting.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday at a press conference in Turkey that Ukraine must diffuse mines around Odessa and that Russia is ready to guarantee the safety of ships leaving Ukraine for Turkish waters.
Both Ukraine and Russia have laid mines in the Black Sea, but Ukraine fears that Russia will launch an offensive against Odessa if the mines are diffused. These concerns have only been intensified as Russia demanded control of commercial ships to make sure that they do not carry weapons.
Turkey has offered to escort ships from Ukraine to Turkish waters after a request from the UN, but Ukraine insisted that exports be escorted by NATO, stressing the threat of a Russian assault on Odessa.