All countries including India need to hold Russia to the terms of the grain exports deal, a senior US official said on Wednesday, days after Moscow agreed to allow the shipping of vital grains from the Ukrainian Black Sea ports.
The grain agreement, brokered by the UN and Turkey and aimed at averting a global food crisis, was inked on Friday to primarily facilitate the export of around 20 million tonnes of wheat, maize and other grains from Ukraine.
Visiting US Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator Samantha Power said Russia has to respect the terms of the deal and it is important that "all countries, not only the US, but India" hold Russia to the terms of the deal.
"So far, what we have seen from the Russian Federation is a string of lies and broken promises, and above all, a string of months and months of devastating attacks on civilian infrastructure...
"Ukrainians are determined to operationalise this deal," she said.
Following its invasion of Ukraine, Russia blocked maritime access to the Ukrainian ports, which resulted in a total halt in the export of millions of tonnes of grains from that country, triggering a global food crisis.
The US official said this while interacting with the media on the third and final day of her visit to Delhi.
"The stakes are extremely high. Twenty million tonnes of grains on which the global food supply is going to be influenced remain trapped (in Ukraine)," she said.
Power said the USAID, the US and European partners have been working side by side with Ukrainian farmers and officials to try to figure out how to get grains and cooking oils out by rail, road or rivers.
"Around the world, inflation is one of the top topics of conversation. It is absolutely critical that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and his forces let the grains go. Those are the stakes and they are life and death stakes," she said.
Referring to the global food and energy crisis, Power, in an address at an event at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) here, said Sri Lanka's government was the first to fall but there have already been protests related to food and fuel prices in at least 17 countries because of inflationary pressures.
"If history is any guide, we know that Sri Lanka's government will likely not be the last to fall," she said.
Power said like India, Ukraine is a global breadbasket, exporting nearly 50 million tonnes of wheat every year.
"Therefore, it was no surprise that the invasion and the blockade of 20 million tonnes of food trapped still in Ukraine's ports coincided with the highest prices ever seen on the UN's Global Food Price Index," she said.
Power said the US has just increased its annual USD 1 billion dollar investment in the global food security programme by an additional USD 760 million for this year.
"Faced with such an extraordinary global food crisis, every country must examine its budgets and policies so that even as we each address domestic needs and contingencies -- and we know how significant those needs are in many parts of the world including here... We work together to stave off a much wider catastrophe," she said.
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