While Ukraine claims to have some 22 million tons of grains and seed in stock, UN Secretary-General António Guterres is in “intense contact” with Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, the United States, and the European Union to restore Ukrainian grain exports and prevent the current global food crisis from getting worse.
“I am hopeful, but there is still some 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.”
At a recent food security meeting at the United Nations hosted by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Guterres called on Russia to allow the “safe grain exports from Ukraine” and for Russian food and fertilizers “to have full and unrestricted access to the world market.”
Global prices for grain, cooking oil, fuel, and fertilizers have soared due to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Guterres has warned that it will exacerbate developing countries’ food, energy, and economic crises.
“It threatens to drive tens of millions of people into food insecurity, followed by malnutrition and hunger, starting a crisis that could last for years,” Guterres underlined
Ukraine used to export most of its products through seaports in the Black Sea, but since Russia’s February 24 invasion, it has been forced to favor trains or small ports on the Danube River.
UN food chief David Beasley appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin: “If you have a heart, please open these ports.” Beasley leads the World Food Program, which feeds about 125 million people and buys 50% of its grain from Ukraine.
From Kyiv, president Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukraine has 22 million tons of grains and seeds in stock and is asking allies for help in transporting cereals. Zelensky made the announcement at the Davos Economic Forum.
Zelensky also mentioned that he is in talks with northern European countries about establishing a drainage route in the Baltic Sea. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest grain producers, and its stock is trapped in the country due to the Russian invasion, which forced the closure of the country’s main ports. Food prices are rising worldwide due to the scarcity of Ukrainian goods.
Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia demands the lifting of sanctions as part of conditions to talk about letting ships sail.