The blockade of the Black Sea ports for grain exports threatens a global food crisis. The EU Trade Commissioner is trying to find solutions – but Moscow is blocking them.

EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis has accused Russia of blocking UN efforts to export Ukrainian grain.

UN negotiators have been trying for weeks to get millions of tons of grain stocks stored in Ukraine onto the world market, for example to avert hunger crises in other regions of the world. “It is clear who is responsible for the blockade,” said Dombrovskis in Geneva before the start of the World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial conference. “It’s up to Russia to end its aggression and it’s up to Russia to stop stopping Ukrainian exports.”

Broad support for Ukraine

Before the start of the conference, the EU and other countries had organized a short “Solidarity with Ukraine” event. According to Dombrovskis, more than 50 countries have signed a declaration of support for Ukraine. This was to prevent the war from overshadowing ministerial negotiations on other issues. Food safety is one of the issues.

Due to the war and the fact that Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, can no longer deliver, food is already becoming scarce in several countries around the world.

According to Ukrainian data, more than 23 million tons of grain and oilseeds cannot be exported. Before the war, 90 percent of exports went beyond the ports. Three of them – Mariupol, Berdyansk and Cherson – have now come under Russian control in the course of the war of aggression. The port in Mykolaiv was badly damaged, so negotiations are now primarily about the release of Odessa.