Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of blocking the export of 22 million tons of food products and warned that if its ports are not unblocked, many countries will face a food crisis.
"The world community must help Ukraine unblock seaports, otherwise the energy crisis will be followed by a food crisis and many more countries will face it," Zelensky said during a meeting with media following talks with Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa in Kyiv on Saturday, according to the president's office.
"Russia has blocked almost all ports and all, so to speak, maritime opportunities to export food -- our grain, barley, sunflower and more. A lot of things," he said, according to the statement.
"There will be a crisis in the world. The second crisis after the energy one, which was provoked by Russia. Now it will create a food crisis if we do not unblock the routes for Ukraine, do not help the countries of Africa, Europe, Asia, which need these food products
"You can unblock them in different ways. One of the ways is a military solution. That is why we turn to our partners with inquiries regarding the relevant weapons,” Zelensky said.
Zelensky also accused Moscow of "gradually stealing" food products and trying to sell them.
"Russia puts millions of people at risk of hunger by blocking our ports," Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also tweeted Saturday, adding that Ukraine has established with its partners two alternative land routes to deliver food exports and "save Africa and other regions from hunger."
Before the war, wheat supplies from Russia and Ukraine accounted for almost 30% of global trade, and Ukraine is the world's fourth largest exporter of corn and the fifth largest exporter of wheat, according to the US State Department.
The United Nations World Food Program -- which helps combat global food insecurity -- buys about half of its wheat from Ukraine each year and has warned of dire consequences if the Ukrainian ports are not opened up.