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Russia says easing blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports depends on sanctions review

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has said it will only consider opening Ukraine’s Black Sea ports – and thus easing pressure on the world’s food supply – if sanctions against it are reviewed.

Moscow’s comments followed a call from the UN’s food chief to Vladimir Putin that millions of people were dying around the world because of the Russian blockade.

International authorities are warning of a global food crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.

The country, along with Russia, is one of the largest grain producers in the world. But Moscow’s blockade of Black Sea ports means exports are blocked at the port.

“You should not only appeal to the Russian Federation, but also thoroughly examine the whole set of reasons that caused the current food crisis,” Interfax news agency reported, according to the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister. , Andrei Rudenko.

“First, it is the sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and the EU that interfere with normal free trade, encompassing food products, including wheat, fertilizers and others,” he said. he adds.

Previously, UN food chief David Beasley appealed directly to the Russian president.

“If you have any heart for the rest of the world, no matter what you think of Ukraine, you have to open those ports,” he said.

The United Nations is calling on Russia to ensure food gets to where it’s needed most.

“There is no effective solution to the food crisis without reintegrating food production from Ukraine, as well as food and fertilizers produced by Russia and Belarus, into world markets – despite the war,” he said. said António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations. .

“Russia must allow the safe and secure export of grain stored in Ukrainian ports.

“And Russian food and fertilizers must have unrestricted access to world markets without indirect impediments.”

Before the war, food insecurity had increased due to conflicts, climatic and economic crises.

The World Bank has announced aid of 12 billion dollars (11.3 billion euros) over the next fifteen months, the majority of which will go to countries in Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

“This is a crisis that is about to get worse compared to the food price crisis of 2007 to 2008, affecting very many poor households,” said Martien Nieuwkoop, global director for agriculture and food. World Bank Food.

“We are already seeing food insecurity at very high levels. The support will be used to protect poor households by expanding social safety nets.

“This will help farmers prepare for the next planting season. It will also be used to ensure export restrictions are avoided. And that the food and food trade remains open, to avoid price increases.”

The United States also underscored its commitment to fighting starvation and malnutrition.

In just two years, the number of people suffering from severe food insecurity has doubled from 135 million before the COVID-19 pandemic to 276 million, according to the UN.

He added that last year, 193 million people in 53 countries were acutely food insecure.

“In total, this represents more than 30 billion dollars (28.3 billion euros) available for the implementation of the fight against food insecurity over the next 15 months”, notes the World Bank.

“Rising food prices are having devastating effects on the poorest and most vulnerable,” said World Bank President David Malpass.

“To inform and stabilize markets, it is essential that countries make clear statements now on future production increases in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

euronews Gt

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