“Some will starve, many may die,” U.N. warns after Russia pulls out of grain deal

Threats against civilian vessels in the Black Sea are “unacceptable,” a senior U.N. official said Friday following statements by Moscow and Kyiv after Russia withdrew from a key grain export deal.

Russia announced on Monday that it was pulling out of the initiative, which allowed the safe export of Ukrainian grain, effectively ending the agreement signed in July last year between Moscow, Kyiv, Istanbul and the U.N. Russian authorities then announced they would consider any ships heading for Ukrainian grain ports on the Black Sea as military targets.

Ukraine responded by issuing a warning to ships heading for Russian-controlled ports.

“Threats regarding potential targeting of civilian vessels navigating in the Black Sea waters are unacceptable,” the U.N.’s under-secretary-general for political affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, told the U.N. Security Council.

“We are also concerned about the reports of sea mines laid in the Black Sea, endangering civilian navigation,” she added. “We strongly urge restraint from any further rhetoric or action that could deteriorate the already dangerous situation.”

DiCarlo said that Russia withdrawing from the grain deal, “coupled with its bombardment of crucial ports, will further compound the crisis.” She said the U.N. would continue its efforts to allow Ukrainian and Russian grain, a key food source for the world, to reach global markets.

Outside the Security Council chamber, Ukraine Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya told CBS News as he was going into the meeting: “It’s about many millions of people around the world on the brink of starvation…what happens as a result of the egregious decision to terminate the agreement with the United Nations.”

Kyslytsya said that the Ukrainian government is trying to broker various ways of delivering grain and food to the most needy around the world.

“We do not use grain as weaponized means of foreign policy or waging war,” Ukraine’s U.N. top diplomat told CBS News. 

The U.N.’s humanitarian affairs chief Martin Griffiths said this week had been one of “sadness and disappointment.” But for many of the 362 million people in need of humanitarian aid around the world, it was a “threat to their future.”

“They’re not sad, they’re angry, they’re worried, they’re concerned. Some will go hungry. Some will starve, many may die as a result of these decisions,” Griffiths added. 

Meanwhile, Russia said Friday that it understood the concerns African nations may have after Moscow left the grain deal, promising to ensure deliveries to countries in need.

Those countries in need would receive the necessary assurances at a summit later this month, Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Vershinin told journalists.

“We understand the concerns our African friends may have,” said Vershinin. “But I want to say that these concerns are not only understandable but will be fully taken into account.

Asked about Putin’s upcoming meeting with African countries, Kyslytsya told CBS News, “I have lots of confidence in the maturity of many African leaders ….I don’t think they will be easily bought by freebees and giveaways,” adding that they are “not ready to go up against the very fundamental principles of international law.”

U.K. Ambassador Barbara Woodward also addressed the consequence of Russia’s exit from the grain deal.

“It’s hardly surprising that we heard Kenya say that this is a real stab in the back for the hungry and the poor in Africa, in the Horn of Africa, particularly as they face worst drought impacted by climate change… that’s a real humanitarian consequence of Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal,” Woodward told CBS News and reporters at the press area before the meeting.  

CBS News correspondent Pamela Falk contributed to this report.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button