July 20, 2023

Zelenskyy economic adviser:  Russian attack destroys food for 300,000 people

Russia’s renewed blockade of shipping routes in the Black Sea imperils the supply of Ukrainian agricultural products to foreign markets, the stocks of which in ports are currently enough to provide food for about 6 million people. Oleg Ustenko, the President’s economic advisor, said this in an interview with the American magazine Newsweek.

According to Oleg Ustenko, while Ukraine is appealing to the international community to take measures to prevent losses to the Ukrainian and global economy due to the blockade, the Russians are trying to destroy Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea and are destroying port infrastructure that stores grain intended for export.

“In our ports now, we have grain ready to go to the world,” Ustenko said. “We are talking about huge amounts of grain, enough to feed at least 6 million people around the world… if we are not able to move this grain from our ports, it means that a country of the size of Denmark, Finland, Norway will not have food for their people.”

According to Oleg Ustenko, when the Russians destroyed 60,000 tons of grain in the port of Odesa with missiles the day before, they actually left 300,000 people without food.

“If Ukraine is unable to use seaports and corridors, it will be a disaster for the whole world,” the President’s economic advisor stressed.

According to him, if the grain cannot be exported, there will be no place to store the next harvest, and the economy of our country will suffer even greater losses.

While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and UN Secretary-General António Guterres hope to push Russian President Vladimir Putin to renew the grain deal, the world’s most vulnerable are on the verge of disaster, says Oleg Ustenko.

“With our grain, we are feeding somewhere between 400 million and 600 million people worldwide,” he said. “It’s crucially important to unblock our ports and start to deliver our grain to the world.”

He believes that Russia intends to exacerbate the precarious food situation in the Global South in order to provoke a new migration crisis in Europe and North America. The Russian leadership and its allies in Belarus have previously used migration flows to Europe as a weapon.

“They would love to see the hunger,” Ustenko said. “They definitely understand that immigration is growing, the level of immigration, the rate of immigration is going to accelerate. This is the card they want to play.”

According to him, the Russians are now realizing that they will not win anything in the war with Ukraine, so they are beginning to act more aggressively and barbarically.

According to the presidential advisor, withdrawal from the grain deal could worsen Russia’s relations with countries in Africa, the Middle East and South America, some of which have been hesitant to join the condemnation of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the sanctions pressure on Russia.

“They are starting to realize, eventually, that who is really to be blamed is Russia. Nobody else is responsible for that. The Russians started this war, Russians are destroying our harvest, Russians are doing everything possible to make sure that our grain and our food are not supplied to the world,” the President’s advisor summarized.

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