Brian Gornick - Staff Writer - News
Russian Warships pass through the Bosphorus Straits in Turkey, heading to the Black Sea from the Mediterranean. Photo: bbc.com
As the war between Ukraine and Russia continues to capture the eyes of the world, a looming disaster threatens the food stability of millions across the globe, all as a result of the war.
Russian warships have been blockading Ukrainian ports such as the one in Odessa, blocking ships from entering and leaving the ports. Among these ships are those carrying Ukrainian grain that was meant to be exported across the globe, but no longer could be as a result of the blockade.
According to the Washington Post, Ukraine is the world’s largest exporter of sunflower oil, the fourth largest exporter of corn, and the fifth largest exporter of wheat.
Ukrainian grain grows in a field in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, 2020. Photo: time.com
Much of the world relies on this wheat, especially nations in the Middle East and Northern Africa, who are much more prone to food insecurity than other parts of the world. By blocking these exports from reaching the rest of the world, Russia is blackmailing the world with famine and higher food prices.
It is no secret that Russia is using the lack of grain exports to try and gain leverage over Western nations. From a Kremlin readout obtained by CNN, Putin stated that Ukraine grain exports would be allowed “unimpeded” access through the Black Sea, along with Russian fertilizer and agricultural products, should Western sanctions on the country be lifted.
Russia is also holding the economies of nations that rely on this grain hostage. The U.N. has claimed that the lack of Ukrainian grain exports would increase global prices by 8% to 22% above current levels, which were already high due to other factors.
All of these factors are setting the stage for future disasters in countries across the globe, and there does not seem to be any clear solutions to fix it.
Russia has mined the Black Sea, and has warships continually patrolling the coast. While their naval presence is not as strong after the sinking of the Moskva and other ships with Ukrainian missiles, there is still enough to force a blockade.
NATO officials have stated that they have thought about a united naval mission to break the blockade under the grounds of assisting the world. Doing so, however, would potentially bring about war with Russia, which NATO officials wish to avoid at all costs.
If NATO pursued this mission, Russia would surely attack NATO vessels attempting to break the blockade, which would invoke NATO’s Article 5.
The only logical solution to end the blockade without war would be through diplomatic means. However, as long as Russia continues to push demands that the West deems unacceptable, the world will have to continue facing the impact of a lack of Ukrainian grain.