To date, all seaports of Ukraine are blocked due to the military invasion of Russia. For this reason, about 25 million tons of Ukrainian grain remain in port warehouses and cannot be delivered according to contracts, mainly to the countries of North Africa and the Middle East. If a prompt solution to the problem is not found, it will inevitably develop into a food disaster on a global scale.
This was discussed by the deputies of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) during the current debate on the topic “Consequences of the blockade of the Black Sea”, which took place on Thursday, June 23, in Strasbourg. The debate participants called on the governments of the PACE member countries to initiate a UN resolution on the creation of a special humanitarian corridor for the export of Ukrainian grain.
Poor countries will suffer first
“Putin is using wheat as a weapon to pressure the West to lift sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine,” Pierre-Alain Friedes, a Swiss MP from the socialist group, said.
According to him, blockade of the Black Sea by the Russian army and “the fact that the coast, in particular Odessa, is mined to protect the coast of Ukraine, means that export Ukrainian grain in a short time is impossible. “The PACE deputies consider the option of escorting cargo ships by military destroyers dangerous, since this can lead to” a catastrophic escalation. trust,” Frides stated.
Ukrainian grain was exported mainly to the poor countries of North and East Africa, as well as to the Middle East, recalled the French MP from the European People’s Party, Bernard Fonnier. So, according to him, Lebanon depends on wheat from Ukraine by almost 80%, and Somalia – by 70%. Among the countries that are critically dependent on the export of Ukrainian grain are Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen, Bangladesh, Qatar and others.
Ukrainian sunflower oil for British fish and chips
Not only developing countries suffer from the blockade of Ukrainian ports. According to Dmitry Natalukha, a deputy from the Ukrainian delegation from the group of liberals, since the beginning of Russia’s war against Ukraine, “consumer prices in the EU have increased by 8%, and producer prices by 37%.” Those goods that are basic for the average citizen have risen in price, Natalukha emphasized.
“Imagine that a year ago a German citizen paid 1 euro for a sausage bun, and now he pays 2 euros for it because the bun was made from Ukrainian wheat. The British national dish fish and chips has risen in price by 20% because that fish and potatoes were fried in Ukrainian sunflower oil“, – explained Natalukha. Therefore, he believes, as a result of “deliberate actions of Russia”, the stability of developed countries was also threatened. “This is not just blackmail, this is terror that threatens the whole world. Russia is the rider of the apocalypse, which sows hunger, horror and death,” the politician summed up emotionally.
“We need to trust the diplomats”
The longer the blockade lasts, the bigger the problem with food supplies in the world will be, said the representative of Canada, which has observer status in PACE, Larry Brock. He said that the UN World Food Program “is already ready to pay 44% more for food purchases than in 2019.” Meanwhile, it is impossible to replace Ukrainian grain in a short time. Since, for example, India, which is the world’s second largest producer of wheat, introduced a ban on grain exports in May due to drought in the country in order to meet the needs of its own domestic market.
According to most speakers, the only possible way out of the critical situation is through diplomacy. “We need to trust diplomats and create conditions for a corridor through which ships with a cargo of wheat could leave the port of Odessa,” Swiss liberal MP Damien Cottier said. The Special Humanitarian Corridor should operate under the auspices of the UN, and this initiative must be urgently discussed and formulated into a special resolution, the politician is convinced.