The Royal Navy could be deployed to the Black Sea as part of preparations to establish a “protective corridor” to allow ships carrying Ukrainian grain to flee the country.
The United Kingdom is in discussions with allies, including Lithuania, about forming an “alliance of the willing” to assist ease Russia’s blockade on Ukraine’s ports. Egypt and other nations that rely on Ukrainian goods are expected to be able to assist.
Before exports could restart, the waters around the Ukrainian coast would have to be de-mined.
Thousands of tonnes of grain from Ukraine that would normally be exported throughout the world linger in silos around the country, raising fears that the global food crisis could worsen. Lower-than-expected crop yields in countries like India have also raised concerns.
Gabrielius Landsbergis, the Lithuanian foreign minister, told his British counterpart Liz Truss in London earlier this week that Ukraine must be permitted to export grain to alleviate food poverty.
“Russian blockade of Odesa can and has to be removed. Ukraine should be allowed to feed the world,” he said on Monday.
On Tuesday, the British transport secretary Grant Shapps expressed similar concerns.
“We’re looking at all the different options … there are lots of different potential ways to get grain and other goods out of the country,” he said.
“It’s absolutely essential that we do, otherwise there could be a lot of hunger and [even] famine.”
Last Thursday, UN World Food Programme Director David Beasley urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to break his naval blockade “to feed the poorest of the poor and avert famine.”