While the newly signed deal to resume grain exports through Ukrainian ports offers a “beacon of hope” for countries in increasingly desperate need, close coordination among the parties involved will be critical to its success, the United Nations political affairs chief stressed today, as delegates in the Security Council both welcomed its potential for staving off famine and condemned the strike on the port of Odesa less than 24 hours later that threw that likelihood into jeopardy.
“The grain agreement is a sign that dialogue between the parties is possible in the search to ease human suffering,” said Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, as she urged the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Türkiye to work in partnership. Along with the understanding between the Russian Federation and the United Nations on promoting access of Russian food products and fertilizers to world markets, the 22 July accord will help bridge the global food supply gap and reduce high prices.
The timing could not be more urgent, she said. The war, now in its fifth month, shows no sign of ending. Since 28 June, the number of civilians killed, wounded or maimed by fighting has grown, while deadly missile, air and artillery attacks by Russian armed forces continue unabated, reducing many Ukrainian cities and towns to rubble. As of 27 July, the High Commissioner for Human Rights had recorded 12,272 civilian casualties in Ukraine — 1,641 new victims since her last briefing, she said.
To alleviate suffering, the humanitarian community has reached 11 million people with aid, she said. She underscored the commitment of the United Nations to Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence within its internationally recognized borders.
In the ensuing debate, delegates — including from Albania and the United Kingdom — expressed deep concern that the Russian Federation is aiming to “wipe Ukraine off the map”, ignoring calls to stop its aggression, and instead, forcing mass population transfers and weaponizing grain as way to leverage its interests. The United States’ representative accused Moscow of “setting the United Nations Charter on fire”, annexing territory and installing illegitimate proxies in Russian-controlled areas, with the goal of holding sham referenda. Latvia’s delegate, speaking for the Baltic countries, urged the Council to show that international norms — including the Charter — are not “empty statements that can be trampled on by dictators and bullies”.
In turn, the Russian Federation’s delegate retorted that its armed forces have fully liberated areas in Ukraine, including Luhansk. The Internet is filled with video clips of people coming out into the street with ribbons and Russian flags, yet Western colleagues are not taking note of these changes. Further, Moscow was prepared to resolve issues around Ukrainian grain and Russian fertilizer exports in April, however they sought to sabotage the “package nature” of the agreement.
Ukraine’s delegate, meanwhile, pointed to video footage of Russian forces torturing and killing a Ukrainian prisoner of war. He likened the Russian foreign minister’s claims that the “geographical objectives” of the so-called special operation had been expanded to “the base wish of a thief” trying to keep possession of what had been stolen. He thanked the United Nations Secretary-General for his unequivocal condemnation of the Odesa port attack, as his clear assessment made futile all Russian attempts to create artificial caveats.
Armed with recommendations, Kenya’s delegate said the conflict in Ukraine, like the COVID-19 pandemic, has proved that distributed food production, particularly in Africa and the developing world, is a key safety net. If the great Powers want to make their case to Africa, “they should start by partnering with us” to deliver fertilizer independence and gains in its agricultural productivity institutions.
India’s representative similarly underscored the importance of equity, affordability and accessibility when it comes to food grains, stressing that “open markets must not become an argument to perpetuate inequity.”
Also speaking today were representatives of the United Arab Emirates, France, China, Ghana, Norway, Mexico, Ireland, Gabon, Brazil, Slovakia, Germany, Poland, Italy and Romania, as well as a representative of the European Union, speaking in observer capacity.
The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 12:55 p.m.