Ukraine is hailing its grain shipments to Africa's poorest countries, putting added pressure on Russia's war in the territories along the Black Sea.
Ukraine has warned since the start of Vladimir Putin's war last Feb. 24 that Russia is putting the world at risk of famine by warring in the regions of Ukraine where grain is harvested and shipped worldwide through ports blocked or controlled by Russian forces.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hosted a summit in Kyiv on Saturday to promote its "Grain from Ukraine" initiative to export grain to countries most vulnerable to famine and drought.
The Ukrainian leader said the plan demonstrated that global food security was "not just empty words" for Kyiv. The Kremlin has claimed Ukraine's Black Sea exports during the war have not been reaching the most vulnerable countries.
Zelenskyy said Kyiv had raised around $150 million from more than 20 countries and the European Union to export grain to countries including Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.
"We plan to send at least 60 vessels from Ukrainian ports to countries that most face the threat of famine and drought," Zelenskyy told the gathering.
The summit was attended in-person by the prime ministers of Belgium, Poland and Lithuania and the president of Hungary. Germany and France's presidents and the head of the European Commission delivered speeches shown by video.
Announced by Kyiv earlier this month, the initiative is in addition to a UN-brokered deal that has allowed some Ukrainian grain shipments through the Black Sea, a vital route for the major wheat producer's exports that had been blocked.
Flanked by his chief of staff and prime minister Saturday, Zelenskyy said the Grain from Ukraine initiative aimed to demonstrate that for Kyiv global food security is "not just empty words."
"This will be one of the biggest contributions to global stability — a real and very necessary step," he said.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax on May 31, the world will be facing a food crisis, if not "famine," if Ukraine did not receive longer-range weapons that can extend the fight against Russia's invasion on the coast of the Black Sea, Zelenskyy told Rob Schmitt.
"Currently, 22.5 millions tons of grain are blocked by Russia," he said in an exclusive sitdown interview in the capital city of Kyiv. "In order to de-block this territory with an exit to the sea, with an exit to water, with an exit to our people, we need to fight and we need to have weapons with effective range as far as 120-140 kilometers."
The southern ports, blocked by Putin's invading Russian forces, were keeping vital shipments of gain, barley, and other exports from leaving Ukraine, Zelenskyy told Schmitt.
"In order to de-block the occupied south of our Ukraine, in order to de-occupy the east end territories as well as to de-occupy the ports of Ukraine that were occupied by the enemies, and [then] through those ports we could be exporting millions tons of grain," he said.
"Otherwise, we might face a food crisis."
Information from Reuters was used in this report.
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