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The Macron-Scholz-Draghi visit to Zelensky, and the food shortage crisis because of war in Ukraine

After receiving a lot of criticism from other countries and at home for being too soft against Russia, Macron, Scholz and Draghi, from France, Germany and Italy respectively, visited today Kyiv and other ukrainian cities to show their full support to the government of Zelensky. Very importantly, they agreed that Crimea should be taken back from Russia as part of the war efforts and exclaimed that "Ukraine must win this war", but reminding also that "at some moment, Ukraine will need to seat down with Russia to negotiate an end to the conflict". Zelensky says that its army is losing 100-200 soldiers per day at the front in the Donbas region, whereas it is estimated that Russia has lost 20,000 since its full-scale invasion started on February 24. At the moment, the Russian army is shooting each day around 60,000 artillery shells, which is ten times more than what Ukraine does, and many experts say that it will be almost impossible for Kyiv to take back the eastern regions located close to the Russian border. Another tough situation is what is happening with food shortages in the world. Russia and Ukraine account for more than 30% of global wheat exports, and even if prices were already rising before the invasion because of covid affecting the supply chains and general inflation, the war has made this situation much worse. Ukraine is also a major exporter of corn, barley, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil, while Russia, and its ally Belarus, account for more than 40% of global exports of the crop nutrient potash, so grain-based food prices have increased as much as 40% in just three months in some countries. The reasons of this crisis have to do with the fact that the Black Sea has been mined by the Ukrainian army as measure to prevent the Russian Navy to launch an invasion from this front. Russia in turn, is completely blocking sea transport exiting any Ukrainian port, so both sides are responsible for this situation. Currently, negotiations are being held with Turkey with the aim that the export of grains from Ukraine, mainly wheat, can resume with supervision of the Turkish Navy until the ships exit the Bosphorus Strait, in Istanbul, but nothing clear has been agreed upon yet. Russia cannot export its own grains because of international sanctions on the insurance of Russian ships, so it the supplybof grains in the world has been reduced drastically. Ukraine says that Russia is imposing harsh conditions and the Kremlin argues that free shipment depend on an end to international sanctions. Ukraine is also accusing Russia of stealing its grain held in conflict areas and exporting it via Crimea to African countries, which depend heavily on Ukrainian and Russian deliveries. Because of that, the United States sent an international alert about Russian cargo vessels loaded with what the State Department described as “stolen Ukrainian grain”. Representatives of Putin in charge of Russian-held areas in Ukraine have indeed acknowledged that grain had left the region on freight trains bound for Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. From there, the grains have been sold to countries in the Middle East and Africa, and Russia considers it a normal practice when a military conflict is going on. Ukraine has reacted by establishing train routes through Poland and Romania to export grain, but bottlenecks have slowed the supply chain. There are around 30 million tonnes of grain stored in Ukrainian-held territory and 13-15 million tonnes of storage capacity in Russian-occupied areas. Without access to its Black Sea ports, Ukraine will not be able to export its usual 50 million tonnes of grains per year. It is expected that with these train routes, only 20 million tonnes of grains will exit the country in 2022. The United Nations has warned that this is affecting already 140 million people in Africa and Middle East who are starving because of the food shortages, and that the situation in only getting worse.


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