Vladimir Putin’s exit from the Black Sea grain deal, which has up until now allowed the safe passage of vital food supplies to the global south, will lead to “death and destruction” in some of the most impoverished parts of the world, an international human rights lawyer and multiple regional experts have told Express.co.uk.
Millions of civilians across the Middle East and Africa, many of whom are already facing the “most severe food scarcity crisis” in decades, have been heavily reliant on Ukraine for supplies.
But Russia’s military threat against all ships leaving Ukrainian ports, which came into effect at midnight on Thursday (July 20), will now conclusively sever those supply chains.
Russia’s concurrent bombing campaign of Ukrainian ports such as Odessa, which began on Monday when they announced their abandonment of the Black Sea deal, has destroyed more than 60,000 tons of grain already in what the head of Ukraine’s presidential staff said would “endanger the lives of 400 million people” across the world.
Experts have now warned that Putin will not slow down this barbaric tactic and that he “will do anything to obtain an advantage”, even if it means holding hostage millions of civilians already struggling with famine.
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Swaths of the African continent, parts of which are struggling with civil war and famine, are set to be “particularly hard hit” by Russia’s latest move, according to a former US ambassador to Zimbabwe.
Charles Ray, who served under Barack Obama, told Express.co.uk that millions “already suffering from poor harvests and food shortages will be the ones that bear the brunt of this action”.
He suggested that Kenya, Somalia and large parts of Ethiopia will be some of the worst affected areas.
Sudan, meanwhile, which is facing its own conflict as its military junta fights against the avaricious paramilitary Rapid Support Forces at the expense of its civilian population, will also suffer serious consequences.
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In the Middle East, Afghanistan has become a major cause of concern. It is already dealing with severe food supply issues in the wake of the US and British withdrawal of its forces from the capital of Kabul in August, 2021.
Its civilians, currently subjected to the brutal rule of the returned Taliban, have been reliant on Ukrainian exports and humanitarian aid for much of their supplies.
James Ryan, Director of Research and Middle East Programs at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a US-based think tank based in Philadelphia, said Russia’s exit from the Black Sea deal would inevitably have an effect on that struggling population.
He cited Egypt, which imports a lot of grain, and Lebanon, due to an ongoing fiscal crisis, as the Middle Eastern countries that will additionally be affected.
He also mentioned Turkey, since “general inflation is still very high” and the “lira is continuing to fall against the dollar”.
But a leading British international human rights lawyer, Wayne Jordash, who is leading a team assisting Ukraine in documenting Russian war crimes, said he believes Putin is “indifferent” to this “death and destruction”.
His extensive documentation of what he describes as the systemic Russian practice of war crimes in Ukraine and further afield shows that Putin will “do anything to obtain an advantage”.
Both Mr Ray and Mr Ryan concurred with this suggestion, the former describing Putin’s plot as a “blatant extortion attempt” and the latter intimating that the move will “increase the eagerness of the Middle East to broker a negotiated settlement” between Russia and Ukraine to avoid further fallout.
The fatal repercussions of Russia’s exit from the deal and their concurrent bombing campaign will be difficult to quantify, but it seems altogether clearer that Putin is unconcerned about the extent of damage it causes, so long as it prolongs his “special military operation”.
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