Ukraine: Boris Johnson vows to help lift Black Sea ‘blockade’


Ships transporting essential staples around the world are not allowed to leave Ukraine’s ports (Image: AP/Rex)

Boris Johnson has pledged to help break Russia’s “despicable blockade” that is pushing up global food prices.

Important Ukrainian exports of grain and other products are in limbo because they cannot be shipped through the Black Sea.

Its agricultural industry – one of the world’s largest producers of wheat, corn and sunflower oil – plays a central role in the global food trade.

Vladimir Putin, whose ships have taken control of Ukraine’s southern coast and threaten anything leaving their ports, has been accused of forcing starvation on developing countries.

Speaking to his counterpart in Ukraine today, the Prime Minister said a solution is being sought to end the crisis.

It was previously reported that the UN is involved in negotiating a deal with Moscow to allow ships carrying food products free passage again.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “Leaders discussed Putin’s heinous blockade of Odessa, Ukraine’s largest shipping port.

Farmers prepare to sow sunflowers in a field in Cherkaska Lozova, outskirts of Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, May 28, 2022. Ukraine is one of the world's top exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but war and a Russian blockade of its ports have halted much of that flow, threatening the world's food supply. Many of these ports are also now heavily mined. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Ukraine has a huge agribusiness that was once considered the ‘breadbasket of Europe’ (Image: AP)

“The Prime Minister explained to President Zelenskyy the intensive work that is taking place with international partners to find ways to resume grain exports from Ukraine in order to avert a global food crisis.

“He said the UK will work with G7 partners to push for urgent progress.

“The leaders agreed on the next steps and the need for Russia to ease its blockade and allow safe shipping lanes.”

Mr Johnson has previously ruled out the use of Royal Navy vessels to clear mines in the Black Sea as this would not be permitted under international law.

He told Bloomberg: “I think there is an absolutely appalling situation where so many people in the world are facing food price inflation, if not actual food shortages, caused by what’s going on in Ukraine through Putin’s election campaign.

“He decided to invade Ukraine, he had no reason to do so, and it is he who makes it difficult to get 25 million tons of grain from these Black Sea ports, especially Odessa.

“Twenty-five million tons is equivalent to the total grain consumption of the world’s poorest countries, and we have to get that out.”

FILE - In this photo provided by the Press Service of the Russian Defense Ministry, the Russian missile cruiser Moskva is on patrol in the Mediterranean Sea near the Syrian coast, December 17, 2015. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP, file)

Ukraine managed to sink the Black Sea Fleet’s flagship Moskva, but Russia still has an overwhelming naval advantage (Image: AP)

Russia has signaled it wants an easing of sanctions on its economy in exchange for grain being allowed to leave Ukraine’s ports.

The Kremlin has proposed easing the blockade in return for international sanctions.

The invading forces have continued to advance slowly and laboriously in eastern Ukraine, capturing several small towns and communities.

The fighting is centered on the struggle for control of Sievierodonetsk and nearby Lysychansk, the last two areas held by Kyiv’s forces in Luhansk.

The governor of the region, Serhiy Haidai, has warned that Ukrainian soldiers may have to withdraw from Sieverodonetsk to avoid encirclement.

The Ukrainian government has warned the West that it will not be able to stop the Russian advance unless its troops are provided with more advanced weaponry.

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Justin Scacco

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