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Russia Again Punishing the Hungry

(FILE) A combine harvests wheat at a field near Kyiv, Ukraine.

“The human consequences of [Russia's] decision to deny food to the world's most vulnerable are devastating,” said USAID Administrator Samantha Power.

Russia Again Punishing the Hungry
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On July 17, Russia suspended its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative, an agreement between Ukraine and Russia, brokered by Turkey and the United Nations that allowed ships to enter and leave Ukrainian ports without being attacked. This, as millions of people around the world face unprecedented food insecurity, some tipping into famine. “The human consequences of a decision to deny food to the world's most vulnerable are devastating,” said USAID Administrator Samantha Power.

“Let us be clear about what the Black Sea Grain Initiative achieved. Two-thirds of the wheat that was exported via that initiative went to developing countries,” she said. “55 percent of the commodities exported overall through the Black Sea Grain Initiative went to lower-income countries. So in addition to the Ukrainian farmers who will pay a price, it is people all around the world who are going to be worse off because of this reckless decision.”

The fact is that the Black Sea Grain Initiative should not have been necessary in the first place. “The only reason it became necessary is because Russia invaded Ukraine and then decided to blockade the ports and prevent Ukraine from sending grain around the world,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “The result of Russia’s action today – weaponizing food, using it as a tool, as a weapon in its war against Ukraine – will be to make food harder to come by in places that desperately need it.”

“The bottom line is, it’s unconscionable. It should not happen. This should be restored as quickly as possible. And I hope that every country is watching this very closely,” he said. “They will see that Russia is responsible for denying food to people who desperately need it around the world, and to contribute to rising prices at a time when many countries continue to experience very difficult inflation.”

“We urge the government of Russia to immediately reverse its decision,” said National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby. “The United States has and we will continue to work with other countries to enable both Russian and Ukrainian grain to reach the rest of the world, including by ensuring that our sanctions do not target — contrary to Russian propaganda, they do not target Russian food or fertilizer.”

The United States, said Mr. Kirby, “will continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to get that grain to markets that desperately need it even if that’s through other routes.”