“I am confident, but there is still a long way to go,” said Antnio Guterres, who visited Moscow and Kiev late last month. “The complex security, economic and financial implications require the goodwill of all parties.”
Speaking at a meeting on food security organized at the United Nations by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Antnio Guterres called on Russia to allow “the safe and secure export of grain stored in Ukrainian ports” and that Russian food and fertilizers “have full and unlimited access to world markets “.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has skyrocketed world prices for cereals, cooking oils, fuels and fertilizers, and Guterres warned that this would exacerbate food, energy and economic crises in poor countries.
“It risks pushing tens of millions of people into food insecurity, then malnutrition, mass starvation and starvation, in a crisis that could last for years,” Guterres said.
Ukraine exported most of its goods through seaports, but since the Russian invasion of February 24 has been forced to export by train or through its small ports on the Danube.
The head of the UN, David Beasley, made an appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin: “If you have a heart, open these ports”. Beasley runs the World Food Program, which feeds some 125 million people and purchases 50% of its grains in Ukraine.
“It’s not just about Ukraine. It’s about the poorest of the poor who are on the verge of starvation right now,” Beasley said.
Russia and Ukraine together account for nearly a third of the world’s grain supply. Ukraine is also a major exporter of corn, barley, sunflower oil and canola, while Russia and Belarus – which supported Moscow in its war in Ukraine – account for more than 40% of the world’s exports of potassium, a nutrient for crops.
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According to Blinken, Russia must be forced to create corridors so that food and other vital supplies can safely leave Ukraine by land or sea.
“It is estimated that there are 22 million tons of grain in silos in Ukraine right now. Food that could immediately be used to help people in need if they could leave the country,” Blinken said.
The United Nations said 36 countries depend on Russia and Ukraine for more than half of their wheat imports, including some of the poorest and most vulnerable countries in the world, including Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. .
Mr. Guterres spoke with Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov on Tuesday about Russian fertilizer and grain exports, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, said.
“The talks, as far as I know, went well and were positive,” Nebenzia told reporters on Wednesday, but stressed that Ukraine’s access to international markets was a separate matter.
“We are ready to do our part. Ukraine’s access to the grain market is something else,” Nebenzia said.
Mr. Nebenzia said that while there are no direct sanctions on Russian fertilizers or grains, there has been a chilling effect on shipping, insurance and banking after the United States, United States and other countries began to punish Russia. for what Moscow calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Blinken said it was “wrong” to blame sanctions because the US has created exceptions and is working to ensure that Washington-imposed measures “do not prevent food or fertilizer from leaving Russia or elsewhere.”