Russia President Vladimir Putin said he was considering restricting grain exports through the reopened Black Sea ports accusing Ukraine and its western allies of sending most of the grain to Europe instead of poorer, food insecure countries.
A deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey on July 22 allowed Ukraine, one of the world’s top grain exporters, to begin shipments through the ports that had been sealed in February after Russia’s invasion of its neighbour.
More than 2 million tonnes of grain have been exported over the last five weeks, according to the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) that oversees the shipments.
In a speech to an economic forum in Russia’s Far East region of Vladivostok, Putin suggested that he may speak with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about revising the deal. The Associated Press cites him as saying:
With the exclusion of Turkey as a mediator, practically all the grain exported from Ukraine was sent to (European Union) nations instead of the poorest countries.
It’s obvious that with an approach like that, the magnitude of the food problem in the world will keep growing, and that could lead to an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe. Maybe it’s worth thinking about restricting the exports of grain and other products on that route? I will certainly discuss the issue with the president of Turkey.
The JCC, which is coordinated by the UN, Turkey, Ukraine and Russia, said 30 per cent of cargo had gone to low and lower-middle-income countries such as Egypt, Iran, Libya, India, South Korea, China and Israel.
It noted that one of five commercial vessels scheduled to set sail from Ukraine on September 7 is destined for Kenya with 51 400 tonnes of wheat. The four other ships are destined for Spain and Turkey.
In all, 96 outbound ships have left Ukrainian ports with more than 2.2 million tonnes of grain.