The spike in grain prices in the days since Russia quit a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain “potentially threatens hunger and worse for millions of people,” the United Nations’ aid chief told the Security Council on Friday.
Russia quit the Black Sea grain deal on Monday, saying that demands to improve its own food and fertilizer exports had not been met and complaining that not enough Ukrainian grain had reached poor countries.
U.S. wheat futures in Chicago rose over 6% this week and had their biggest daily gain on Wednesday since Russia invaded Ukraine, but pared some of those gains on Friday in part due to hopes Russia may resume talks on the deal.
“Higher prices will be most acutely felt by families in developing countries,” Martin Griffiths told the 15-member body, adding that currently some 362 million people in 69 countries were in need of humanitarian aid.
“Some will go hungry, some will starve, many may die as a result of these decisions,” he said.
The deal was brokered a year ago by the United Nations and Turkey to combat a global food crisis worsened by Russia’s February 2022 invasion. Ukraine and Russia are leading grain exporters.
The U.N. argued that the Black Sea deal had benefited poorer countries by helping lower food prices more than 23% globally. The U.N. World Food Programme also shipped some 725,000 metric tons of Ukraine grain to aid operations in Afghanistan, Djibouti Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
But Mikhail Khan, a macroeconomist who Russia asked to brief the Security Council, said the poorest countries had received just 3% of the grain.
“The qualitative assessment of the impact of the grain deal in terms of provisions of Ukrainian grain to global markets is essentially not very significant,” he said.
Russia is negotiating exports of food to countries most in need following its exit from the deal, but has not yet signed any contracts, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin said in Moscow on Friday.
Russia pounded Ukrainian food export facilities for a fourth day in a row on Friday and practiced seizing ships in the Black Sea. Moscow has described the port attacks as revenge for a Ukrainian strike on Russia’s bridge to Crimea on Monday.
“The new wave of attacks on Ukrainian ports risks having far-reaching impacts on global food security, in particular, in developing countries,” U.N. political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the Security Council.
Russia has said it would now view any ships traveling to Ukraine’s Black Sea ports as possibly carrying military cargoes. Kyiv responded by announcing similar measures against vessels bound for Russia or Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory.
DiCarlo said those threats were “unacceptable.”
“Any risk of conflict spillover as a result of a military incident in the Black Sea – whether intentional or by accident – must be avoided at all costs, as this could result in potentially catastrophic consequences to us all,” she said.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan hopes to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month and said those talks could lead to restoration of the Black Sea grain deal, calling on Western countries to consider Russia’s demands, Turkish broadcasters reported on Friday.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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