UK Plans Food Security Summit After Black Sea Deal Collapse

(Bloomberg) -- The UK plans to host a summit for countries hit by rising food prices due to Russia’s war in Ukraine, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.

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The event, slated for November 20th, will bring together government representatives, charities and businesses “to help vulnerable people and economies” impacted by rising food prices, Sunak’s office said late Thursday in a statement as the premier traveled to India for a summit of the Group of 20.

The proposal comes days after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he wouldn’t revive a deal that had safeguarded the passage of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea. That’s raised concerns about the future of supplies from Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, and contributed to weeks of volatility in global wheat prices.

The UK military is carrying out surveillance flights to monitor Russian activity in the Black Sea, Sunak’s office also confirmed. These aimed to “deter Russia from carrying out illegal strikes against civilian vessels transporting grain,” it said.

The food security summit has been organized in partnership with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund, and the governments of the UAE and Somalia, according to Downing Street.

Since Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, it’s carried out drone attacks damaging storage and industrial facilities as well as agricultural equipment. It has also targeted river ports that are the main alternative export routes to the Black Sea.

According to the UK government, Russia has damaged or destroyed at least 26 civilian port facilities, warehouses, silos and grain elevators since July, reducing Ukraine’s export capacity by one third. That’s enough grain to feed more than 1 million people for an entire year, the UK said.

Sunak would “use any opportunity” to tell Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov “to his face” about the “critical damage their illegal war is doing both in Ukraine and globally,” his spokesman, Max Blain, told reporters in London. Lavrov is attending the G-20 in the place of Putin.

“Once again, Vladimir Putin is failing to show his face at the G20,” Sunak said in remarks sent by his office. “He is the architect of his own diplomatic exile, isolating himself in his presidential palace and blocking out criticism and reality.”

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