There are victims of this war who can only be guessed at. They live thousands of miles from the battlefield and will starve to death or be shot in riots. Nobody knows how many there are.
These are the facts: around 400 million people worldwide get grain from Ukraine. At least 14 African countries import more than half of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine. Populations in some of these countries, such as East Africa and the Sahel, are currently suffering the worst drought in 40 years. The corona pandemic has already hit many economies hard.
Corona, climate, war: These three factors are increasing in their disastrous effect. Ukraine is the fourth largest producer of corn, grain and barley in the world and the fifth largest producer of cereals. But exports have ground to a halt since the beginning of the war, so prices have soared. The humanitarian situation is the most serious since the Second World War, warn representatives of the United Nations World Food Program.
EU Council President Charles Michel was in Odessa a few days ago. He saw silos full of wheat and corn there, he said. “It’s groceries that are urgently needed.” But the port of the Black Sea city is blocked. Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of planting floating mines. The port of Odessa offers the last maritime export opportunity for wheat from Ukraine. All other of their Black Sea ports were either destroyed or captured by Russia. The ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet cruise on the high seas.
Are there alternatives to the sea route to bring Ukrainian grain to the destination countries? Transport by rail is complicated due to the different track gauges of the trains. The quantities are too large for the land route. Nevertheless, some European countries are working on a “grain bridge”. After all, Ukrainian farmers, often wearing bulletproof vests, planted about 80 percent of the usual seeds this spring.
The 1936 Treaty of Montreux regulates access to the Black Sea. According to this, Turkey, a NATO country, has full sovereignty over the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus. Merchant ships enjoy free passage, special regulations apply to warships. Aircraft carriers from countries that are not neighboring countries have no access. In addition to Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria are also neighboring countries and members of NATO.
Now nobody wants a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO in the Black Sea. Nevertheless, it has to be discussed whether there can be a UN mandate that would allow Western countries to secure freedom of trade for Ukrainian ships on certain routes. A possible route would run from Odessa to the Romanian port of Constanta.
The West reacted resolutely but militarily with restraint to Russia’s war of aggression and conquest against Ukraine. Meanwhile, a Russian blockade of the export of staple foods that are urgently needed around the world is interfering with the right to life of millions of uninvolved people. Hunger as a weapon: This must not be tolerated.