Ukraine war: UN chief urges Russia to revive grain deal, warning ‘the most vulnerable’ will suffer

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made the appeal during a speech in Rome Monday, at the opening of a three-day food summit.

With the recent collapse of the Ukraine-Russia grain deal, “the most vulnerable will pay the highest price,” Guterres said. He lamented that there are already negative effects on global wheat and corn prices.

Wheat prices have risen more than 14% since Monday, when Russia pulled out of the grain deal, and corn prices are up more than 10%.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres addresses the assembly during the opening session of a three-day U.N. Food and Agriculture Agency’s summit on food systems in Rome.

Both Russia and Ukraine are “essential to global food security,” the UN leader said. He noted that they have historically accounted for 30% of global wheat and barley exports, a fifth of all maize and more than half of all sunflower oil.

“For my part, I remain committed to facilitating unimpeded access to global markets for food products and fertilizer from both Ukraine and the Russian Federation and to deliver the food security every person deserves,” Guterres said.

“I call on the Russian Federation to return to the implementation of the Black Sea Initiative, in line with my latest proposal,” Guterres said, urging the international community to stand united to find solutions for the issue.

In this photo released by the United Nations, a UN official carries out an inspection on board of the bulk cargo ship TQ Samsun, which travelled from Odessa, in Istanbul..

Russia’s refusal to renew the accord triggered the deal’s collapse earlier this month. It said the Black Sea Initiative would be suspended until demands to get Russian exports of food and fertilizer to the world are met.

The accord had been brokered by the United Nations and Turkey as a way to keep grain flowing to developing countries, especially in Africa and the Middle East, despite the war unleashed by Moscow against Ukraine in February 2022.

When the grain deal was struck, the UN World Food Programme regained a top supplier, allowing 725,000 metric tons of humanitarian food aid to leave Ukraine and reach countries on the brink of famine, including Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Yemen.

The deal’s suspension as well as Russian attacks on the Black Sea ports of Ukraine have irked Russian ally China and as well as developing nations heavily dependent on the shipments to feed their people.

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