Comment by Spokesperson of the MFA of Ukraine Oleg Nikolenko regarding the blockade of Ukrainian seaports by Russian Federation

After attacking Ukraine, Russia has blocked Ukrainian seaports. The Russian army has mined areas of the sea, and is constantly trying to break through the defense of Odesa and other coastal cities on the Black Sea.

As a result of the Russia’s blockade, Ukraine has now lost the opportunity to export agricultural products by sea. About 22 million tons of grain are stuck in ports and can not reach consumers, especially in Africa and Asia. Alternative land routes will not completely solve the problem, as they have low bandwidth. Moreover, Russia is stealing Ukrainian grain in the occupied territories in order to sell it illegally to third countries.

Russia’s actions could lead to a global food crisis and, in some regions, a famine. Russia must immediately unblock Ukrainian seaports, stop shelling Odesa and other coastal cities, withdraw its navy to a distance that will make it impossible to attack merchant ships, and not create obstacles to international navigation.

Ukraine discusses with partners the ways to establish an international mission under the auspices of the United Nations, which will take over the functioning of maritime routes for the export of Ukrainian agricultural goods. We welcome the readiness of a number of countries to join the process of restoring security in the Black Sea and Azov Sea.

As a first step, Russia must withdraw its forces from the territorial waters of Ukraine and provide security guarantees against attacks on ports and commercial convoys.

Ukraine remains committed to finding ways to unblock routes in the Black and Azov Seas to prevent a protracted global food crisis. We call on countries whose food security may suffer most from Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, to use their contacts with Moscow to force it to lift the blockade of Ukrainian seaports and end the war.