“If you already have a heart.” UN official warns Putin millions will die if Ukraine ports remain blocked

“Millions of people around the world will die because these ports are blocked,” Beasley told CNN on Thursday.

When asked what he would say directly to Putin, the UN official said: “If you have any heart for the rest of the world, no matter how you feel about Ukraine, you should open those ports.”

Beasley, a former Republican governor of South Carolina, warned that the ports must be operational within the next 60 days or else Ukraine’s agricultural-oriented economy will implode.

“If you don’t get this port problem solved and open, Ukraine’s economy will collapse completely,” Beasley said at the SABEW conference in New York. “It’s being landlocked like Moldova. The ports are critical.”

According to the US Department of Agriculture, Ukraine is among the top five global exporters of a number of important agricultural commodities, including corn, wheat and barley. It is also the largest exporter of both sunflower oil and flour. In 2021, agricultural products accounted for 41% of Ukraine’s total exports.
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Speaking about the global food supply shock caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, President Joe Biden noted that an estimated 20 million tons of grain is trapped in silos there.

“Guess?” Biden said during a visit to a farm in Illinois on Wednesday. “If those tons don’t come on the market, an awful lot of people in Africa will starve to death because they are the only supplier to a number of African countries.”

Arming food and energy?

After Russia vowed to impose sanctions on 31 foreign energy companies on Wednesday, a top official in Germany on Thursday accused Russia of using energy as a “weapon”.

When asked whether Russia arms food in the same way, the UN’s Beasley said it would if ports aren’t reopened soon. “Two plus two equals four,” he said.

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But unblocking the ports will not be easy. Not only are they defended by mines and battleships, Beasley said the Ukrainian military is concerned that reopening them will allow Russia to make a “quick move” and invade Ukraine through its ports.

Stressing that he is the “humanitarian man”, the UN official called for an “understanding” within the international community that they will do “whatever it takes to” protect the ports from “invading”.

“World leaders need to pressure Russia in such a way that we can have absolute neutrality to move supplies to and from Odessa,” Beasley said.

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