MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Russia President Vladimir Putin on Sept. 7 accused Ukraine and its western supporters of sending most of the grain from its reopened Black Sea ports to Europe instead of poorer, food insecure countries, the Associated Press reported.
Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 and had blockaded the ports until a deal, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, was struck on July 22 that allowed Ukraine, one of the world’s top grain exporters, to begin shipments. 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.
Speaking at an economic forum in Vladivostok, Russia, Putin suggested that he may speak with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about revising the deal.
“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,” Putin said. “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.”
According to the Associated Press, food security experts have said many of the shipments Putin is referring to are deliveries on existing contracts that had been signed prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The JCC, which is coordinated by the UN, Turkey, Ukraine and Russia, said a number of shipments have gone to non-European destinations 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 Sept. 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, according to the JCC.