Addressing the African Union Commission via video link on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Africa has been “taken hostage by those who started the war against our country.”
Zelensky warned the global food crisis will continue “as long as this colonizing war goes on,” affecting the lives of as many as 400 million people all over the world who depend on Ukrainian exports.
“Our main task right now is to eliminate the threat of famine. In the 21st century this threat simply cannot be, thanks to Ukraine and thanks to our agrarian industry,” he said.
“If it wasn’t for the Russia’s war, you would be in a different situation right now – in a totally secure situation. Therefore, to avoid famine, the attempts of countries like Russia to return the colonial policy of landgrabs has to come to an end,” Zelensky said.
According to Zelensky, Ukraine is attempting to build new supply logistics, but 25 million tonnes of grain still remain on hold as Russia continues to block Ukrainian ports.
More background: Russia’s war in Ukraine could push up to 49 million people into famine or famine-like conditions because of its devastating impact on global food supply and prices, the United Nations has said.
With its fertile soil and sprawling agricultural lands, Ukraine has long been described as one of the world’s breadbaskets. But Russia’s unprovoked assault is now putting a huge strain on Ukraine’s food production and exports. The ripple effects are being felt around the world.
Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports has already raised global food prices and threatens to cause a catastrophic food shortage in parts of the world, the UN said.
The Russian invasion has affected Ukraine’s entire food production and supply chain: From sowing to harvesting to exports. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that between 20% and 30% of Ukraine’s agricultural land will remain either unplanted or unharvested this year because of the war.
With regards to food that is already harvested, Ukrainian authorities, and some international officials, have accused Russia of robbing the country of grain and other commodities in areas it occupies.
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CNN’s Ivana Kottasová contributed reporting to this post.