The UK could send warships, along with NATO allies, to the Black Sea port of Odessa to help ensure safe passage for vital grain exports around the world and avert global starvation.
Image: AFP via Getty Images)
The UK could send navy warships to provide safe passage for Odessa’s grain export with NATO allies, it has been reported.
A Russian blockade of Black Sea ports could trigger a global famine, endangering millions of lives, as many tonnes of grain wait to be shipped from Ukraine around the world.
Ukraine, one of the largest grain producers in the world, used to export most of its goods through its seaports, but since Russia sent troops to Ukraine it has been forced to export by train or via its small ports on the Danube.
And now Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says he has spoken to British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss about creating a “protective corridor” from the port of Odessa.
He also reportedly said that some other NATO allies and grain-dependent countries like Egypt would be willing to provide military support.
The operation would mean that the warships would clear the port of Odessa and protect them as they crossed the Black Sea, The Times reported.
It is also claimed that long-range missiles would be used as a deterrent.
Ukraine’s First Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrydenko called for such a corridor, saying it would help Ukraine and help avert world hunger.
“It would take us 5, 6, 7 years to export all these agricultural yields. So at the moment it is extremely important for us to unblock the seaports,” she said, quoted by the BBC, in a interview at the World Economic Forum.
“We need a guarantee from the partners, of course it’s a defense guarantee, a security guarantee.”
But any corridor designed to provide safe passage for food exports out of Odessa could only be done with Russian consent, a Western official told Reuters on Monday.
“Obviously the Russians dominate this area. It would require Russian permission, some kind of agreement to allow that to happen,” the Western official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“It would require some kind of security guarantee, I think from Turkey, to make it a reality. I think the thing we should rule out is any feeling that it could be done without Russian permission.”
UN food chief David Beasley warned the UN Security Council in March that the World Food Program was buying 50% of its grain from Ukraine and that the war was threatening the WFP’s ability feed some 125 million people around the world.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also said 36 countries rely on Russia and Ukraine for more than half of their wheat imports, including some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries. , such as Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Russia and Ukraine together account for almost a third of the world’s wheat supply. Ukraine is also a major exporter of corn, barley, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil, while Russia and Belarus – which has supported Moscow in its intervention in Ukraine and which is also subject to sanctions – account for more than 40% of global exports of this plant nutrient. potash.