Singapore (AFP), June 11 – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday called for international pressure to end a Russian naval blockade of Black Sea ports that has choked off his country’s grain exports, threatening a global food crisis.
Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine was the world’s largest producer of sunflower oil and a major exporter of wheat, but millions of tons of grain exports remain blocked due to the blockade.
The United Nations and certain countries are pushing for the opening of a maritime corridor to allow the resumption of exports.
“The world will face an acute and severe food crisis and famine, in many countries in Asia and Africa,” Zelensky said in a video address to the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore.
“Scarcity of food will inexorably lead to political chaos, which can result in (the collapse of) many governments and the ousting of many politicians,” he told delegates, including Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin and Chinese Defense Minister.
“This imminent threat is evident just by looking at the spike in commodity prices in global markets and in some countries. This is the direct consequence of the actions of the Russian state.
Zelensky urged the international community to “restore the full force of international law” that existed before the February 24 invasion.
Kyiv is in talks with the UN, Turkey and other countries to open a way to allow grain exports, and Zelensky said the talks focus on the “format” of the corridor.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart held talks in Ankara this week on securing the passage of Ukrainian grain exports, but talks have made little progress.
Zelensky said that Ukraine currently exports more than two million tons of grain per month via rail, but that is not enough.
He accused Russia of seeking to drive up grain prices, adding that it had done the same with energy.
Russia’s invasion prompted global condemnation and a barrage of sanctions. After being pushed back from Kyiv and other parts of the country, it is concentrating its offensive on the eastern region of Donbass.