President Vladimir V. Putin’s assault on Ukraine and the West’s sanctions against Russia have had worldwide economic repercussions, impeding trade, contributing to inflation, threatening recession and upending markets, particularly for energy.
Better Understand the Russia-Ukraine War
But Russia’s blockade of Odesa and other ports has produced some of the gravest global consequences, undermining a global food distribution network that was already strained by poor harvests, drought, pandemic-related disruptions and climate change. Western officials accused Mr. Putin of using hunger as leverage for sanctions relief.
Ukraine is one of the world’s breadbaskets, a leading exporter of wheat, barley, corn and sunflower, but its shipments plummeted after the war began. Exports from Russia, another major supplier, fell as well.
Prices for food staples on world markets soared — wheat cost about 50 percent more in May than it did in February. Prices have since fallen back to prewar levels, but those levels were high, after climbing steadily in the year and a half before the invasion, and stockpiles are low because of the coronavirus pandemic. The United Nations warned of potential famine and political unrest.
“The lifting of these blockades will go some way in easing the extreme hunger that over 18 million people in East Africa are facing, with 3 million already facing catastrophic hunger conditions,” Shashwat Saraf, the International Rescue Committee’s East Africa Emergency Director, said in a statement.
The deal struck in Istanbul lays out a logistically complex operation to export Ukrainian grain through Turkey, and also offers U.N. assurances to help Russia export its own grain and fertilizer.