Opinion | Putin’s Assault on a Ukrainian Port Poses Threat to Global Food Security

Opinion | Putin’s Assault on a Ukrainian Port Poses Threat to Global Food Security

Since his withdrawal from an agreement on July 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin has caused severe damage to Ukraine’s grain export infrastructure, resulting in harm not only to Ukraine but also to countless people worldwide who depend on it for grain. Russia has launched drone and missile attacks on Ukraine’s export facilities, including grain silos and port structures. These attacks have made it more challenging for Ukraine to resume shipments in the future. As a consequence of Russia’s actions, global grain prices have risen significantly. Putin’s justification for withdrawing from the agreement is that it imposed too many restrictions on Russia’s export of goods, and he would be willing to rejoin if the terms were renegotiated to his liking.

Ukraine is a significant grain producer, accounting for a significant portion of the world’s wheat, barley, corn, and sunflower oil supply. Consequently, Russia’s actions raise concerns about future global food security, even with bumper crops in other countries potentially delaying acute shortages.

Some of Russia’s recent missile attacks, including one on Odessa’s historic center, are potentially war crimes. Moscow’s targeting of Ukrainian grain stores on the Danube River is also a risky escalation, as it is close to NATO territory in Romania. Russia is attempting to blame the West for weaponizing food supplies, but the evidence of their own role in the destruction of Ukrainian grain stores is clear. African nations, particularly those dependent on shipments from Ukraine, are at significant risk due to Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain pact. Moscow has offered assurances of supplying grain to African countries on commercial terms or for free, but it would not be able to fully replace the volume previously provided by Ukraine.

Resuscitating the Black Sea grain deal is crucial, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has maintained a relationship with Putin, should use his influence to exert pressure in that direction. The United States is also taking steps to counter Putin’s influence in Africa and is offering diplomatic alternatives to address the potential food shortages caused by Russia’s actions.

In conclusion, Russia’s actions have caused extensive destruction and threaten global food security. It is essential for diplomatic efforts to revive the Black Sea grain agreement and for African decision-makers to stand firm against any threats to the world food supply.

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