New Delhi: Blaming Russia for the escalating global food crisis, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Sunday claimed that Moscow is blocking Ukraine’s ports in the Black Sea even as he stressed that his country is working with allies to find other “safe” maritime routes to export food grains.
“We have talked to Turkey, Canada and many other European countries, concerning the format…of a safe transport corridor — a maritime corridor — comprised of the ships of our partners used to export our grain. If it is not possible, if there are no ships of countries that can be trusted, the situation will remain unchanged,” Zelenskyy said while virtually addressing the ongoing Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
“We are already exporting 2 MT (million tonnes) of grain per month…but this is not sufficient. By sea, we can export 10 MT of grain,” he further said, adding that Ukraine is also working with Baltic countries and Poland for exporting grain via railway transportation.
Both Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil. The two countries — which are currently at war — account for about a quarter of the world’s wheat exports.
The Ukraine President remarked that by blocking Ukrainian ports, Russia has created a situation in which “the Black sea is the most perilous sea in the world”.
Zelenskyy quotes ex-Singapore PM’s ‘big fish-small fish’ speech
While speaking at the event — to which over 500 delegates from across 40 countries were invited — Zelenskyy spoke of Russia’s “disregard” for international law and recalled former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s famous speech in 1966 where he said that “big fish eat small fish and the small fish eat shrimp”.
Speaking further on the escalating global food crisis, he said the world must work to make Moscow face the consequences of its actions.
“Russia must feel that its belligerent policies will have consequences and if there are no such consequences — if we are not able to export our foodstuffs — the world will face a severe food crisis and famine,” the Ukrainian President warned.
He also cautioned that the signs of a global “political crisis” are already showing in rising food prices worldwide.
‘Must support pre-emptive measures to forestall war’
Asked about Chinese aggression against Taiwan during a Q&A session with the media, the Ukrainian President said the world should not leave behind certain countries at the “mercy” of others.
“Today’s example of Ukraine is an example for the whole world. The world must always support any action related to preemptive measures to forestall war,” he said, adding: “We must not leave them behind at the mercy of another country…”
Drawing a parallel with Ukraine, he said: “We needed pre-emptive sanctions…and deliberations with them [Russia], before the war started. But now there is no grey zone…”
‘Russian strikes have killed 287 children’
During his address, the Ukrainian President accused Russia of using prohibited weapons like phosphorus munitions amid the war and alleged that 287 children have been killed by Russian strikes.
“Russian strikes have killed 287 children in this war,” he said, adding that Moscow regards Ukrainian capital Kyiv “solely as its colony”.
This [Ukraine war] is a “confrontation between the possible…and the impossible for which Russia is so desperately fighting for,” he added.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)