Food held hostage: How to free up Black Sea route for global supplies?

By:François PICARD

Talk about competing narratives. Russia’s foreign minister is in Turkey’s capital, where his hosts talked up the prospect of a UN-brokered plan to free up the Black Sea and the food supplies blocked by the war in Ukraine. The Kremlin wants the waters de-mined and the West to lift “sanctions” on food supplies that are critical to the developing world.

But wait: there are no Western sanctions on cereal and fertiliser exports. In front of the United Nations, the president of the European Council called on the Kremlin to “stop stealing grain in Ukraine while shifting the blame on others”.

But despite an invaded nation’s fight for survival, soaring commodity prices have many of Russia and Ukraine’s developing world customers accepting Moscow’s line. Anything to avert a global food crisis. Is now the time to cut a deal? Will war in Europe’s breadbasket let Vladimir Putin off the hook?

Produced by Charles Wente, Juliette Laurain and Guillaume Gougeon.