Officials from Russia and Ukraine signed a deal Friday to reopen grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. The agreement, if executed, could end (at least partially) a months-long Russian blockade of ports that remain under Ukraine’s control, especially the port of Odessa. However, one day after the agreement was signed, Russian missiles hit the port reportedly destroying a Ukrainian warship and weapons from the U.S.
“To date, Russia has weaponized food during this conflict,” says U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price. “They have destroyed agricultural facilities. They prevented millions of tons of Ukrainian grain from getting to those who need it.”
Price made those comments last week prior to the missiles hitting the port, but he was already leery of Russia’s commitment to the agreement.
“What we’re focusing on now is holding Russia accountable for implementing this agreement and enabling Ukrainian grain to get to world markets. It has been far too long since Russia enacted this blockade. It is a reflection of Russia’s wanton disregard for lives and livelihoods not only in the region but well beyond that we even had to reach this point.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that this only proves one thing: “No matter what Russia says and promises, it will find ways not to implement it.”
Some say this isn’t necessarily the end of the deal though. Officials from the United Nations expected it would take a few weeks for the agreement to become operational and restore shipments to pre-war levels of five million tons per month. The deal, if executed, would allow Ukraine to export the 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural products that have been stuck in the Black Sea ports due to Russia’s invasion.
That blockade put up by Russia has driven up world prices and has threatened mass starvation in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia in an effort to pressure the West to lift war-related sanctions against Moscow.
Source: NAFB News Service