Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio warned that “millions of people could starve to death if Russia does not unblock Ukraine’s ports.” The foreign minister of the southern European country made a similar statement at the Mediterranean ministerial summit in Rome, convened to discuss the global food crisis, reports France-Presse (AFP) today, June 8.
“The next few weeks will be critical to resolving the situation,” he argued after a virtual meeting with Turkey, Lebanon and other countries in the region, as well as representatives of Germany, which currently chairs the G7 (G7) and the Food and United Nations Agriculture Organization (FAO).
“I want to say clearly that we are waiting for clear and specific signals from Russia, because blocking the export of grain means holding hostage and dooming millions of children, women and men to death,” the head of Italian diplomacy broadcast.
Vessels with grain remain blocked in Ukraine, which until the outbreak of armed conflict on the territory of this country on February 24 was considered the world’s breadbasket – one of the world’s leading exporters of corn, wheat and sunflower seeds, AFP notes.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib said at the meeting that rising prices for fuel and basic foodstuffs are exacerbating the crisis in his country.
“The war in Ukraine must be stopped at all costs,” he urged, adding that if that was not possible, then “pressure must be put on the parties concerned to allow the safe export of grain and other commodities without any delay.”
“The world cannot remain at the mercy of military crises in Europe or other regions of the world,” the Lebanese minister said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry previously indicated that Moscow does not interfere with the export of grain from Ukraine, logistical problems arose through the fault of Kyiv, whose formations mined their seaports. At the same time, the Foreign Ministry draws attention to the fact that talk about Russia’s allegedly blocking the export of Ukrainian grain in the Black Sea ports and the resulting deficit in the global food market is nothing more than speculation.
The crisis over Ukraine has led to a sharp rise in food prices, causing a socio-economic shock in poorer countries that have already been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. The UN has previously warned that “profound social tensions” are spreading, especially in North Africa and the Middle East.
According to the disappointing forecast of the FAO, the events around Ukraine will have “the most devastating consequences for countries with a food crisis and for those who are on the verge of starvation.”