Russian blockade of grain exports fuels famine fears

The Times, May 19, 2022


President Putin is deliberately choking off Ukrainian grain exports, which could trigger political unrest across Africa and the Middle East, western officials have said. Protests could sweep across developing parts of the world as a result of Russia’s “weaponisation” of the global food supply, they said. They added that talks were under way for emergency naval convoys to enter the Black Sea to break the blockade. Ukraine is a major exporter of wheat, maize and sunflower oil and is known as the “bread basket of Europe”. Russian ships have blockaded the country’s ports on the Black Sea since February, meaning that it has been unable to sell grain abroad in large quantities. In normal times, Ukraine exports enough grain to feed 400 million people, many of whom live in developing countries. Russia and Ukraine together account for about 30 per cent of global wheat supply.


When we think of famine we often think of drought being the cause of it. However famine in this case is not caused by lack of water – it is caused by war. Russia is deliberately blocking all Ukraine sea ports from exporting wheat. It has even blown up huge storage units in Ukraine full of grain. This is weaponizing food by massively pushing up prices and causing wider destabilisation around the world. Africa and the Middle East are heavily dependent on wheat from Russia and Ukraine. In Europe, the price of wheat has jumped by 74 per cent since January. In total, 1.7 billion people in more than 100 countries are directly affected by Ukraine’s inability to export grain, the United Nations said. There are 43 million on the brink of famine, and 570,000 facing the prospect of starvation. Jesus said that there would be a time of famine before he returns

Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:  And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. (Luke 21:10-11)

Andy Walton

Find the Weekly World Watch: 15-21 May 2022


Find also to read

  1. The health consequences of war in Ukraine will be catastrophic
  2. Seed banks: the last line of defense against a global food crisis
  3. Mix of strong demand and limited supply igniting inflation
  4. Grain shortages affect international markets
  5. The Guardian’s view on the world 3rd week of May 2022
  6. Composted reads for the 3rd week of May 2022

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