“Millions of people around the world will die because of these ports being blocked,” Beasley told CNN during a conference Thursday.
Beasley, a former Republican governor of South Carolina, warned that ports must be operational within the next 60 days or Ukraine’s farm-based economy will implode.
“Unless this port issue is resolved and exposed, Ukraine’s economy will collapse completely,” Beasley said at the SABEW conference in New York. “It will be landlocked like Moldova. The ports are critical.”
Addressing the global food shock caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Joe Biden noted that there were an estimated 20 million tons of grain stuck in silos.
“Guess what?” Biden said while visiting a farm in Illinois on Wednesday. “If these tons don’t get to market, a great many people in Africa will starve because they are the sole supplier to a number of African countries.”
Weaponize food and energy?
After Russia promised on Wednesday to impose sanctions on 31 foreign energy companies, a senior official in Germany on Thursday accused Russia of using energy as a “weapon”.
Asked if Russia is similarly arming food, the UN’s Beasley said it would be if ports weren’t quickly reopened. “Two plus two is four,” he said.
But unblocking the ports will not be easy. Not only are they defended by mines and battleships, Beasley said Ukraine’s military was concerned that reopening Russia could allow a “fast train” and invade Ukraine through its ports.
While emphasizing that he was the “humanitarian type,” the UN official called for an “understanding” within the international community that they will “do what is necessary to protect ports from an ‘invasion’.”
“World leaders need to put pressure on Russia so that we can be absolutely neutral to get supplies in and out of Odessa,” Beasley said.