Commercial vessels carrying Ukrainian grain have safely departed the Black Sea for the first time since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February. This raises hope for bringing the millions of tons of grain stuck at Ukraine’s ports to those facing food shortages around the world, said Secretary of State Antony Blinken. He commended the United Nations and Turkey for making this move possible.
“But this is only a first step,” cautioned Secretary Blinken. Continued implementation of the July 21 UN-facilitated deal is essential to boost food security around the world.
Russia and Ukraine are both major global wheat suppliers, but Moscow's invasion of its neighbor sent food prices soaring and stoked an international food crisis. The war has stalled Ukraine’s exports, leaving some 20 million tons of grain stuck in silos at the port in Odessa.
Global hunger has been accelerating over the last few years. The UN estimates between 2018 and 2021 the number of people living in acute food insecurity increased from 108 million to 193 million. Projections show the Russian invasion of Ukraine could add another 40 to 50 million people to the ranks of food insecure, said Secretary Blinken at the recent “Uniting for Global Food Security” event in Berlin.
The agreement signed between Russia and Ukraine will facilitate access to Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea.
Secretary Blinken urged Russia to continue to facilitate unimpeded exports of agricultural products from Black Sea ports. “Russia must also end its attacks that are rendering farmland in Ukraine unusable and destroying agricultural infrastructure,” he added. “As long as Russia continues its aggression, the Ukrainian people and the world’s most vulnerable will continue to suffer its effects.”