UN chief tells Putin: “Open the Black Sea ports, if you have a heart for the rest of the world”

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Millions of people will die around the world because Vladimir Putin is blockading Ukraine’s ports, a UN food chief warned on Friday.

David Beasley, director of the United Nations World Food Program, pleaded with the Russian president to end the blockade of Black Sea ports.

“Millions of people around the world will die because these ports are being blocked,” he told CNN.

“If you have any heart for the rest of the world, regardless of how you feel about Ukraine, you need to open those ports.”

He stressed that Odessa, which has been subjected to regular Russian bombardment, and other ports had to be operational within the next 60 days to avoid a catastrophe for Ukraine’s economy, which is largely focused on agriculture, which recently accounts for little more than 40 percent of its exports.

“If you don’t solve and open this port problem, Ukraine’s economy will completely collapse,” he explained.

Poorer nations in Africa and other regions are believed to be particularly vulnerable to food shortages caused by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine is among the world’s top five exporters of several vital agricultural products, including corn, wheat and barley, according to the US government, as well as being the top exporter of sunflower oil and meal.

Renewed fighting around Snake Island in recent days may turn into a battle for control of the western Black Sea coast, according to some defense officials, as Russian forces struggle to advance north and west. eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine said it had damaged a Russian navy logistics ship near the island, a small but strategic outpost, and set it on fire.

“Thanks to the actions of our naval sailors, the support ship Vsevolod Bobrov caught fire, it is one of the newest in the Russian fleet,” said Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odessa regional military administration.

Meanwhile, as fighting continued in eastern Ukraine, broader diplomatic moves increased pressure on Putin to avert a global food catastrophe.

Foreign ministers from the G7 group of wealthy nations (USA) at the former castle in the Baltic Sea resort of Weissenhaus to discuss the conflict and fears of its spreading to Moldova.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said it was vital to keep up the pressure on the Russian president by supplying more weapons to Ukraine and imposing more sanctions.

The conflict has pushed up world prices for grain, cooking oil, fuel and fertilizer.

“There are 25 million tons of grain currently blocked in the Ukrainian port of Odessa, which means urgently needed food for millions of people in the world, especially in African countries and the Middle East,” the minister said. of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Annalena Baerbock. .

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said it was crucial for the G7 to show that Moscow was the root cause of global food insecurity.

“We will continue our support efforts…but I would add that we must face a conflict that will last and the long-term consequences on food security. We need to show that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is causing the global food crisis,” she stressed.

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