Lithuania wants a “coalition of the willing” to export Ukrainian grain

The plan was proposed by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis during talks with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in London. He told the Guardian: “Time is running out. The new harvest is coming and there is no other option to export grain except through the Black Sea port of Odessa. There are no storage options for this grain and there are no other options. Alternatives. It is necessary to show the weak countries that we are ready to take the necessary steps.” to feed the world.”

According to Landsbergis, a naval operation, not carried out under the NATO flag, could protect grain ships en route through the Black Sea and former Russian warships. He pointed out that countries affected by the potential loss of grain, such as Egypt, can provide the necessary protection.

“What we have seen is just the beginning. The worst is yet to come in the next five to seven weeks, when the first crop comes and there is nowhere to store it. This means that people in North Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia will have to pay exorbitant prices for wheat, corn and other raw materials they need to get food on the table.” He said Ukraine has to export 80 million tons of wheat this year alone and that the only option is through the port of Odessa.

His plan, which took weeks to prepare, required removing parts of the Black Sea to ensure safe passage. In addition, Turkey, which guards the entrance to the Black Sea, must agree. Turkey fears an escalation of the conflict, but has an interest in lifting the blockade because it is a major buyer of Ukrainian grain.

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“This non-military humanitarian mission cannot be compared to a no-fly zone,” Landsbergis said. “This operation will use military ships and/or aircraft to ensure that grain supplies can safely leave Odessa and cross the Bosphorus. It is achieved without Russian interference. “We need an alliance,” the Lithuanian minister said. willing countries with large navies to protect shipping routes,” he said, adding that NATO had no part in this story.

After his meeting with Landsbergis, Truss said the UK would allow British Navy ships to join the operation, on the condition that the port be cleared and Ukraine supplied with long-range weapons to defend the port against a Russian attack. The UK is in talks with allies about this plan and will likely need US approval to activate it. “We need to address the issue of global food security, so an urgent solution is needed to get the grain out of Ukraine,” Truss said.

impending famine

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres previously warned of a “hurricane of hunger” if Ukrainian grain was not exported. 41 of the world’s least developed countries import a third of their wheat production from Ukraine and Russia. Rising food prices have already pushed inflation in Egypt to its highest level since mid-2019.

Megan Vasquez

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