Russia must not be allowed to deepen global food crisis

This is an outrageous act that will lead to soaring grain prices, deepening the global food crisis anew. Russia’s inhumane tactics must not be tolerated.

Russia has announced an indefinite suspension of its implementation of an agreement regarding the shipment of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.

As a result, ships carrying grain became temporarily unable to leave Ukrainian ports. If exports stagnate from Ukraine, a major agricultural country, the risk of famine and political instability will increase in developing countries mainly in the Middle East and Africa.

As its reason for breaking the agreement, the Russian side claims that its ships tasked with securing grain shipments in the port area of the Crimean Peninsula, which it unilaterally annexed in 2014, were attacked by Ukrainian military drones.

The Ukrainian side has denied it carried out such attacks. There are many doubts as to, for example, whether the Russian ships were actually attacked and whether the ships were responsible for grain transport. Some believe that Russia fabricated the attack in order to break the agreement.

Under the agreement reached in July, in which the United Nations and Turkey mediated between Ukraine and Russia, the countries concerned pledged to cooperate on the safe transportation of grain in order to resolve the stagnation of grain exports due to the Russian blockade of the Black Sea.

Since the agreement was reached, about 9 million tons of exports have been realized, but the agreement is valid for 120 days and is about to expire. The United Nations must strongly urge Russia to implement and renew the agreement.

If the Russian side does not comply, the United Nations must actively consider creating a framework to ensure the safety of maritime transportation, such as calling on willing countries to dispatch naval vessels to escort grain ships.

Russia’s unreasonable measures need to be addressed by the international community as a whole. Although many developing African countries are reluctant to pressure Russia, they should recognize that it is Russia that is escalating the crisis.

Struggling with the increasing counterattacks by the Ukrainian military, Russia continues to target power facilities in Ukraine. Russia has destroyed about 30% of the power plants in Ukraine, forcing that nation to implement rolling blackouts and heating restrictions.

It is clear that Russia’s aim is to discourage Ukraine’s war effort by dealing a blow to civilian life ahead of the harsh winter season.

The obstruction of grain exports and attacks on power facilities can be seen as signs that Russian President Vladimir Putin is growing increasingly impatient with the lack of effective means to improve the war situation. the United States, Europe and Japan must strengthen their unity and continue their support for Ukraine and sanctions against Russia.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 1, 2022)