The US ambassador to the United Nations warned that global food security depends on renewing the UN-brokered deal allowing Ukrainian grain exports, saying on Tuesday that 828 million people in the world go to bed hungry.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that makes it imperative that the agreement enabling Ukrainian shipments through the Black Sea be extended beyond its scheduled expiration in 11 days.

She said at a news conference in Kyiv that “Ukraine has long been a breadbasket for much of the developing world, but Russia's invasion turned Ukraine's rolling wheat fields into battlefields, and Russian forces have deliberately attacked so much of Ukraine's agricultural infrastructure.”

Thomas-Greenfield said she told President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that food security is “a personal priority.” She also reiterated the United States' steadfast support for Ukraine for as long as it takes.

During her day-long visit, the diplomat also announced an additional $25 million to help Ukrainians survive the coming winter as Russian troops bombard their infrastructure. She discussed ways to ensure accountability for the war crimes perpetrated on the Ukrainian people.

Sabotage campaign

At a grain storage facility, Thomas-Greenfield told farmers that she still sees Ukraine “as the breadbasket of the world” and that extending the wartime deal to facilitate Black Sea shipments of Ukrainian grain which expires on November 18 is a priority for the UN.

“This (war) really has had an impact on the entire global food market,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

She said at the news conference that the Russians “have spoiled fields, they've bombed grain silos and literally stolen tractors”.

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“Ukraine fatigue is a real thing for some of our partners,” an unnamed US official said.

“This extensive sabotage campaign has made matters worse for countries like Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, all of whom are facing famine. And starvation and acute malnutrition are taking other countries by storm.”

Major cuts in food and fertilizer shipments from Ukraine and Russia have contributed to global food shortages and higher prices.

On the fence

UN trade chief Rebeca Grynspan, who is overseeing the Russian side of the grain deal, told the UN Security Council last week that Ukraine and Russia provide around 30 per cent of the world's exported wheat and barley, 20 per cent of its maize, and over 50 per cent of its sunflower oil.

Russia is also the world's largest exporter of fertilisers, accounting for 15 per cent share of global exports.

Russia's deputy foreign minister, Andrey Rudenko, said on Tuesday that the Kremlin has not yet decided whether to extend its agreement with Turkey and the UN.

“We still have time. We are looking at how this deal is being implemented, following the restoration of our participation,” Rudenko said. “We are very dissatisfied with how the Russian part is being implemented.”

Rare example

Russia briefly suspended its participation in the deal last week, alleging a Ukrainian drone attack on its Black Sea fleet in Crimea on October 29. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Russia and Ukraine signed separate agreements on July 22 for a Black Sea corridor that cleared the way for the export of grain out of three Ukrainian ports, as well as for shipments of Russian grain and fertiliser. The deal, which established an inspection and monitoring system, will expire on November 19 unless it is renewed.

Russia's UN representatives said last month that a renewed agreement must allow for increased Russian exports of food and fertilizer. Although international sanctions did not target those goods, shipping and insurance companies have been reluctant to deal with Russia following its February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Rudenko said Moscow “has not yet seen progress” in the implementation of the deal's provisions regarding Russian food and fertilizer.


The grain initiative was a rare example of cooperation between Ukraine and Russia. The Ukrainian ports were blockaded and mined early in the war, but more than 10 million tonnes of grain have left the Ukrainian ports for destinations in Africa, Asia and Europe since the Black Sea corridor was established in July.

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Ukraine's infrastructure minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, wrote on Twitter that seven more ships were to berth Tuesday in Ukrainian ports, to be loaded with 140,000 tons of grain. But his deputy, Yuri Vaskov, charged that Russia has slowed down the pace of shipments.

“Today we have returned to the same problems. Joint inspections have resumed. All four parties participate in the inspection. But now they are planned on average only 12 per day, of which eight or nine are actually completed,” Vaslov told the Ukrainian news outlet “The need is 25-30 per day.”

According to the Joint Coordination Centre, the Turkey-based body established to oversee the inspections of participating ships, 77 vessels were awaiting permission to enter Ukrainian ports while 15 other ships loaded with food were preparing for checks in Turkish waters.

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