UN Makes Progress in Talks to Unblock Ukraine Grain Exports

According to the Associated Press, the first meeting between Russia and Ukraine in weeks has finally taken an important step toward ensuring Ukraine can export desperately needed food from Black Sea ports to help ease the global food crisis. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made this statement on July 13th. Turkey’s Defense Minister said negotiators would meet again next week in Istanbul and sign the deal.

Getting food and fertilizer shipments moving again from two major exporters, Ukraine and Russia, is critical because food prices have been rising globally as the war in Ukraine enters its fifth month in much of the world. Millions of civilians in developed and developing countries are facing a food crisis, even the possibility of starvation.

Experts warned the agreement would not have an immediate impact. Before sending the cargo ships to Odesa, Ukraine’s major Black Sea port, it will take some time to ensure the Black Sea shipping channel is clear of mines. The 22 million tons of grain that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said are also in silos and need time to be inspected and transported.

Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn, and sunflower oil. Russia’s invasion and war have disrupted production and blocked shipping routes from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is jeopardizing food supplies in many developing countries and worsening the situation that up to 181 million people may face hunger.

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