Ukraine’s president says tons of grain from his country will arrive in the coming weeks in Somalia, where famine approaches and the global crises of food security and climate change put millions at risk.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s comment came as Russian President Vladimir Putin accuses the West of sending most of the grain from Ukraine’s reopened ports to Europe instead of poorer and hungrier parts of the world.
Speaking at an economic forum in Vladivostok on Wednesday, Putin accused the West of colonialism and suggested that Russia may talk with Turkey about revising the deal that lifted Russia’s blockade on Ukrainian ports and allowed ships safe passage.
“With the exclusion of Turkey as a mediator, practically all the grain exported from Ukraine was sent to the (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,” he added. “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.”
Russia has raised the allegation before, but this is the first time Putin has echoed it.
The Russian president said of 87 ships loaded with grain from Ukraine, just two carried grain for the U.N. World Food Program _ 60,000 tons out of the total of about 2 million tons.
Only one ship from Ukraine has arrived in sub-Saharan Africa, docking at the port of Djibouti last week with grain that WFP said would go to drought-affected Somalia and Ethiopia. That first ship carried 23,000 metric tons of grain, which WFP called enough to feed 1.5 million people on full rations for a month.
Somalia especially needs help. The country had sourced 90% of its wheat from Ukraine and Russia before this year. It now suffers from a shortage of food and humanitarian assistance as thousands of people die and the world largely focuses on Ukraine.
The Ukrainian president in a tweet Tuesday night said 28,600 tons of wheat will arrive in Somalia in the coming weeks and blamed the coming famine in that country on Russia’s actions this year.
“Ukraine continues to save the world with its grain,” Zelenskyy asserted.
African nations were at the center of Western efforts to reopen Ukraine’s ports as the United States and allies accused Russia of starving the world by denying exports from Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters. African leaders also visited Russia to meet with Putin over the issue.
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