EU Member-State Lithuania Calls for International Naval Coalition to Escort Ukranian Grain

Allegedly, there is a Russian blockade of Black Sea ports as well as the entire coastline of the Black Sea - which is stopping Grain from being shipped out of Ukraine. The Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has suggested that nations get together to form an international naval coalition to make sure ships carrying grain can leave.

Image Credit: Military_Material

Contrary to the allegation, Russia has denied the existence of a naval blockade on Ukraine, and has referred to the allegations as “speculation,” instead it insisted that the reason for Ukraine’s logistical issues is because it planted mines in its own ports.

The idea for an international naval coalition was first put forward in a meeting held in London between the U.K.’s foreign secretary Liz Truss and Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis; Liz Truss has voiced her support for the idea.

Truss said the United Kingdom would be able to provide its ships for the escort mission if the potential issues identified by Landsbergis are sorted out, following on from the meeting, according to the Guardian.

She was quoted as saying “What we need to do is deal with this global food security issue and the UK is working on an urgent solution to get the grain out of Ukraine.”

Nations around the world are currently facing grain shortages alongside an already serious cost-of-living-crisis; both Ukraine and Russia supply roughly 30% of the world’s wheat; therefore, sanctions caused a near 60% percent increase in the price of wheat. The aide’s claims are also backed up by the head of the Bank of England; who has also said that: the cost of living crisis in the U.K. - which is due to enter a recession by the end of the year - is being exacerbated by the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Even the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that war in Ukraine has put the world on edge of “a hurricane of hunger and a meltdown of the global food system.”

Press Secretary for the Kremlin Dmitry Peskov has agreed with Guterres’ worries, saying “that is true,” while stressing that Russia was “not the source of the problem which is causing the threat of world hunger. The sources of this problem are those who imposed sanctions, and the sanctions themselves.”

He said shipping in the area is “virtually impossible” because Ukrainian forces have planted naval mines in the Black Sea.

Ukraine could use its rail routes to get its grain out of the country. Poland sends its trains with weapons to Ukraine, and “no one prevents them from exporting grain back on the same trains,” he suggested.

Putin’s top aide Maksim Oreshkin has warned that a “global famine” could occur within the next six months; adding that a humanitarian catastrophe will be triggered by the U.S.’s efforts to take control of Ukraine’s grain reserves.

According to Oreshkin: “In fact, what America is trying to do with Ukraine now is to take out the grain reserves that Ukraine currently has in its possession – just another action that dooms Ukraine to serious humanitarian problems, but also dooms the global community to having big problems with hunger.”

As the figures suggest, Russia is much less dependent on foreign wheat than other nations and Oreshkin says that: “It is important that in the conditions, for example, of a global famine that will occur closer to autumn, by the end of this year all over the world, Russia should not suffer, but be fully provided with food.”

The Lithuanian foreign minister believes that “a coalition of the willing – countries with significant naval power” as necessary to protect shipping routes in the Black Sea from Russia.

Britain as well as other countries that have been hit severely by grain shortages, including Egypt, could join the coalition, the diplomat confirmed.

Landsbergis has suggested that the naval coalition should not involve NATO; telling the Guardian that: “This would be a non-military humanitarian mission and is not comparable with a no-fly zone.”

“Time is very very short. We are closing in on a new harvest and there is no other practical way of exporting the grain except through the Black Sea port of Odessa,” he stressed. “It is imperative that we show vulnerable countries we are prepared to take the steps that are needed to feed the world.”

Landsbergis said he believes that “in this endeavor military ships or planes or both would be used to ensure that the grain supplies can leave Odessa safely and reach the Bosphorus without Russian interference.” However, he accepts that such a plan would require demining some areas and getting approval from Turkey beforehand, a nation that controls the entrance to the Black Sea and could view the naval coalition escort as provocative, dangerous and escalatory.