Washington (Times Of Ocean)- The Russian war in Ukraine is worsening the global food crisis already caused by the COVID19 virus, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman stated on Tuesday.
According to Sherman at a UN Security Council meeting, Russian warships are blocking access to Ukraine’s ports, effectively cutting off grain exports, and are reportedly preventing approximately 94 food ships from reaching the Mediterranean.
“Already, food prices are skyrocketing in low and in middle income countries as Russia chokes off Ukrainian exports,” she said, adding prices of wheat have risen between 20% and 50% across the Middle East and Africa so far this year.
Sherman noted that nearly half of all Ukrainians lack access to food, and people are feeling its effects “far beyond Ukraine’s borders.”
Sherman said the US is particularly concerned about countries like Lebanon, Pakistan, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and Morocco, which heavily rely on Ukrainian imports to feed their populations.
Sherman addressed Russian claims that sanctions imposed by the US and its allies after the war began had raised food costs. He said sanctions are not preventing grain from leaving Ukraine’s ports but President Vladimir Putin’s “war.”
“Russia’s own food and agricultural exports are not under sanctions by the US or by our allies and partners,” she added. “The responsibility for waging war on Ukraine and for the war’s effects on global food security falls solely on President Putin.”
Russia’s war against Ukraine, which began on February 24, has been met with international condemnation, with the European Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom implementing stringent economic sanctions against Moscow.
Hundreds of global companies have also halted operations in Russia.
According to UN estimates, 1,179 civilians have been killed and 1,860 injured in Ukraine, although the true number is likely higher.
UNHCR also reports that millions of Ukrainians have fled to several European countries, while millions of others have been internally displaced.