July 28—Last week Russia signed an agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to allow large-scale grain shipments to leave Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. With wide swaths of the planet staring into the abyss of famine, the pact was welcomed as a “beacon of hope” by UN Secretary General António Guterres.
Within hours Russian forces bombarded the very Ukrainian ports the grain was supposed to move through.
There is no bottom to the barrel of amorality that nurtures the Vladimir Putin regime. The Kremlin kleptocrats are corrupt and repressive at home, genocidal and reckless abroad, and deceitful everywhere.
The need for food shipments is genuine. A tenth of the world’s wheat exports in 2021 originated in Ukraine, with such heavily populated, and impoverished, nations as Egypt, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan among the biggest customers.
The UN World Food Program got 40% of its wheat from Ukraine before the war. But today Russian forces are stealing Ukrainian grain and burning its wheat fields. We took note early in Russia’s invasion of the risk to the world food supply, and that risk is coming to horrid fruition.
Putin’s perfidy fits his past record. The current war is a violation of the agreement to “end” his 2014 territorial raid on Ukraine, which itself violated the agreement that split Ukraine and other Soviet republics off from Russia some 30 years ago. Russia’s intervention in Syria featured repeated agreements for civilian “corridors” that were immediately violated, a tactic Russia has used over and over again in Ukraine.
All of which makes it impossible to imagine a diplomatic resolution to the Ukraine war. One cannot truly negotiate with a thug who routinely violates pledges as soon as they are made. And if there is to be no negotiated end, the war can only end when one side or the other is unable to fight any further.
We tremble to think of the carnage that has already happened, much less what lies in the future — including starvation in lands far from Ukraine.