Nearly six months ago, Russian forces launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, exacerbating a brutal unprovoked war against the country. Putin’s war has impacted millions inside of Ukraine, but the damage has not stayed contained within the country. Russia’s effective blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports trapped more than 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain inside the country for months, exacerbating the most severe food crisis the world has seen in decades.
Now that the UN – after months of negotiation – has helped reach a deal between Ukraine, Russia, and Turkey to resume Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea, I am pleased to share that the United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, is providing over $68 million in additional funding to the UN World Food Program (WFP) to purchase, move, and store up to 150,000 metric tons of Ukrainian wheat to help respond to the global food crisis. USAID, in partnership with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and Minderoo Foundation, supported the first humanitarian grain shipment to leave the Black Sea via Ukraine’s Yuzhny Port today. This includes the 23,000 metric tons of wheat that will go to support the humanitarian response in the Horn of Africa, where a historic drought is pushing millions of people to the brink of starvation.
This relief is critical. Before Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine was one of WFP’s top suppliers of grain and the fourth largest commercial exporter of wheat. Putin’s war on Ukraine has caused food and fuel prices to spike globally and contributed to staggering levels of food insecurity.
While this additional wheat will be used to help feed people in countries facing severe hunger and malnutrition, much more is needed to help the world recover from the global devastation caused by Putin’s brutal war. It’s essential that we continue to build on the progress we’ve seen over the last few weeks so that millions of tons of food currently in storage within the country is allowed to move freely out of Ukrainian ports and into the hands of people across the world struggling to find their next meal.
The United States has provided nearly $7.6 billion in assistance to respond to the global food crisis since the beginning of the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine, and we will continue to work to meet the needs of the people harmed by Putin’s actions.