Zelensky sounded the alarm over the millions of human beings condemned to severe food insecurity if Russia does not lift the naval blockade from the ports bordering the Black Sea. This week it was the Ukrainian president’s turn to bring the issue back to the attention of the world public opinion.
In the absence of “strong” stories and/or certain news from the front, he is passionate about the fate of wheat and Ukrainian agricultural production in general. Huge blocked quantities of grains, corn and vegetable oils can no longer “play their stabilizing role on global markets,” recalled Zelensky.
Mario Draghi called for assurances at the opening of the ministerial office of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris. He too wanted to reiterate the urgency of “unlocking the millions of tons of grains blocked by the conflict.” Safe corridors are needed immediately to allow goods to take to the sea but be careful, says the Italian premier, we must provide Kyiv with the assurance that those same corridors will not be used to attack Ukrainian ports.
There is legitimate concern, which seems to justify the Ukrainian ‘niet’ to the agreement that was being proposed with Turkish mediation. However, he is not considering the Russian position, reaffirmed Foreign Minister Serguei Lavrov at the end of yesterday’s meeting in Yerevan with his Armenian counterpart, Ararat Mirzoyan.
On the plate spins the usual disc: “The Russian military has been declaring for more than a month every day — says Lavrov — that any ship with goods waiting to be sent from the Black Sea ports can pass without fear of being attacked.” The condition-refrain remains that of the responsibility of clearing the waters, which, according to Moscow, belongs to the Ukrainians. And above all the lifting of international sanctions on Russian agricultural products which, albeit to a lesser extent, contribute to the same global stability that Volodymyr Zelensky spoke of.
Not a word about the thousands and thousands of tons of Ukrainian cereals that the Russians have already put back into circulation, by ship from Melitopol and also by train from the vast areas of southern Ukraine controlled by Moscow forces to Russia. It was candidly announced by the head of the military-civil administration of Zaporizhzhia, Evgenij Balitskij, to the Rossija 24 broadcaster.
Draghi has praised the efforts made by the UN and Turkey by the now former “dictator” Erdogan to unblock the situation, even if the Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov denied the existence of any agreement with Ankara for the security of the cargo in the Black Sea. Certifying the failure, for now, of the attempt to find a solution that does not displease anyone. Which is difficult even to say, since the Turkish ambition to bring the Russians and Ukrainians to an understanding on the basis of a UN plan is currently clashing with the fact that both parties find it more convenient to accuse each other of the humanitarian tragedy announced for the millions of people above.
Not for nothing Zelensky took the opportunity of the Paris meeting to explicitly ask for the expulsion of Russia from the FAO. “There can be no discussion on this, what would be Russia’s place in the FAO,” he said, “if it causes hunger for at least 400 million people, or more than a billion?” Then the Ukrainian leader seemed to veer for a moment from the usual military green to the ecological one. Denouncing the Russian war in this case for the poisoning, if not of the wells, of the waters off the Ukrainian coasts. He urged the world to do away with Russian gas to switch to renewable energy.