Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday accused Russia of “deliberately delaying” the export of grain from Ukrainian ports bound for countries in Africa and Asia.
“Today more than 150 ships are in a queue to fulfil contractual obligations for the supply of our agricultural products,” Zelensky said in a video address. “This is an artificial queue. It arose only because Russia is deliberately delaying the passage of ships.”
“Due to the Russian slowdown”, Ukraine has under-exported “about 3 million tonnes of food”, he said. “Russia is doing everything to ensure that at least hundreds of thousands of these people become forced migrants, who will seek asylum … or die of hunger,” he added.
In late July, Turkey and the United Nations brokered a landmark deal with Moscow and Kyiv that designated three Black Sea ports Ukraine could use to send much-needed grain supplies through a Russian blockade. But Russia has criticised the deal, complaining its own exports had suffered and claiming without evidence that most deliveries were arriving in Europe, not in poor countries where grain is needed most.