Russia blockade could worsen food crisis, Zelenskyy warns

As Americans complain about rising inflation, global strife is threatening to make it worse.

Over the weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warning that Many countries, particularly in Asia and Africa, could face starvation if Russia is allowed to continue blocking Ukrainian grain exports from leaving Black Sea ports.

“The world will face an acute and severe food crisis and famine,” Zelenskyy said Saturday during a virtual address to the Shangri-La Dialogue, a major Asia defense conference.

“Russia has blocked the Black Sea,” Zelenskyy said. Russia is violating international law.”

Ukraine is often called Europe’s “breadbasket” and is the world’s fifth largest exporter of wheat.

For weeks, Russia, as part of its invasion of Ukraine, has been engaged in a naval blockade that has prevented Ukraine from shipping goods out of key ports, according to US intelligence.

“Russia wishes to make it impossible for our people to use their land, resources and water in their best interest,” Zelenskyy said. “Russia wishes to steal it and is actively looting the territory it has managed to occupy.”

Those claims have been bolstered by news reports, as well.

Further disruptions to the world’s food supply are sure to cause hand-wringing in the United States, where concerns and complaints about rising food costs are prominent in our political discourse. As I’ve covered in the past, greedy corporations are partially responsible for the inflation we’re experiencing a stateside. But so is the invasion of Ukraine. This could be our new normal: Scarce access to food and water will be the foundation and the fuel for international conflict in the future.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix for inflated food costs in a globalized economy where international fights can throw off the supply chain. Contrary to what many may want, presidents cannot wave away inflation any easier than they can wave away foreign wars.