At the UN Security Council, several countries – including China – urged Russia to return to the grain deal. The US has warned of a possible attack on civilian ships in the Black Sea.
At the United Nations Security Council, Russia was pressured by its ally China, developing countries and western countries to avoid a global food crisis. Ukrainian grain deliveries should be possible again quickly, she said. China’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Geng Shuang called for Russian and Ukrainian grain and fertilizer exports to resume soon.
The Beijing government hopes that those affected will work with the relevant UN bodies to find a balanced solution to the legitimate concerns of all parties, Geng said at the meeting in New York, according to a report on Chinese state television. This is necessary to ensure international food security. Geng referred to UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ promise to do everything possible to ensure that both Ukrainian grains and Russian food and fertilizers reach world markets.
Russia let the international grain deal expire on Monday, despite many international appeals. Since then, there have been repeated Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities on the Black Sea. The United Nations also repeatedly campaigned for the agreement to be reinstated. It is feared that hunger in the poorest countries will become even greater.
The humanitarian crisis must be avoided
Several developing countries have warned of the impact of the disruption to Ukrainian grain supplies, which has already sent wheat prices soaring. Gabon’s ambassador to the UN, Michel Biang, said the grain deal had prevented grain prices from rising and eased the risk of food insecurity in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa and other regions. He called for negotiations to avert a humanitarian crisis.
Mozambique’s ambassador to the UN, Pedro Afonso, said Russia’s actions “will certainly increase global socio-economic tensions in a world already facing a perfect storm of conflict, climate change” and loss of confidence in multilateral solutions.
US warns of attack by civilian ships
Russia has also been criticized by the United Nations and Council members for attacking Ukrainian ports and destroying port infrastructure after withdrawing from the grain deal signed a year ago – a breach of international law, which prohibits attacks on civilian infrastructure. In response to Russia’s declaration that large areas of the Black Sea are dangerous for shipping, the UN has warned that a military incident at sea could have “catastrophic consequences”.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the Council that the US had information that Russia had placed additional sea mines in the vicinity of Ukrainian ports and that the Russian military may attack civilian ships in the Black Sea “and blame Ukraine for these attacks”.
Erdogan wants to convince Putin again
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke by telephone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday night about a possible return to the Black Sea grain shipment agreement. “The opening of the grain corridor has absolute priority,” Zelenskyy said after the call. “Together we must avoid a global food crisis.”
After the deal expired on Monday, there was effectively a new naval blockade. Russia has withdrawn security guarantees for grain transporters in the Black Sea regions under its control. “Because of Russia’s actions, the world is again on the brink of a food crisis,” Zelenskyy said. “A total of 400 million people in many countries in Africa and Asia are at risk of starvation.”
Erdogan expressed confidence that he could convince Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin to revive the grain deal. Anadolu news agency quoted Erdogan as saying he thinks he can continue grain exports in “detailed” talks with Putin.
Russia sees UN turn
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Werschinin sees the United Nations as having a say in a possible new grain deal. “The ball is – as it is sometimes said now – in the court of our partners we work with. Now we are waiting for a reaction from them,” said Vershinin.
The deputy minister pointed out that a memorandum valid for three years was also signed under the grain agreement, containing Russia’s conditions for the deal. Russia is asking the West to ease sanctions so it can sell its own grain and fertilizer more easily on the world market.