February 26, 2024

Pope Francis Calls on Russia to Rejoin Black Sea Deal As Wheat Prices Rise

  • Pope Francis called on Russia to restore the Black Sea grain deal Sunday.
  • Moscow bailed on the UN-brokered agreement earlier this month, fueling fears of a global food crisis.
  • “I appeal to my brothers, the authorities of the Russian Federation, so that the Black Sea initiative may be resumed and grain may be transported safely,” Francis said.

Pope Francis called for Russia to rejoin the Black Sea grain initiative Sunday, with steadily rising wheat prices reigniting fears that the ongoing war in Ukraine will spark a global food security crisis.

Moscow bailed on the deal earlier this month, then started bombing ports and threatening to attack any ships headed for Ukrainian waters on the grounds they could be carrying weapons.

“I appeal to my brothers, the authorities of the Russian Federation, so that the Black Sea initiative may be resumed and grain may be transported safely,” Francis said during his weekly Angelus message, delivered to Roman Catholics worldwide.

Followers of the Pope should keep praying “for martyred Ukraine, where war is destroying everything, even grain,” causing “the cry of millions of brothers and sisters who are suffering from hunger [to rise] up to the sky,” Francis added.

Benchmark wheat prices had their biggest one-day jump in over a decade the week Russia pulled out of the Black Sea grain deal, a United Nations-brokered agreement that had allowed Ukraine to export grains and oilseeds through a safe shipping corridor for the past year.

They’ve since given up some of those gains but have still climbed nearly 5% over the past two weeks, data from the Chicago Board of Trade shows.

Corn and soybean prices have also edged up since the Kremlin announced it would abandon the agreement.

As well as Pope Francis, top policymakers from the UN and European Union have warned that Russia’s latest economic assault on the West will make it much more expensive for poorer countries to import grain.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said that the demise of the grain deal will end “a lifeline for global food security” and extinguish “a beacon of hope”, while the EU’s head of foreign policy Josep Borrell warned there could be a “big and huge food crisis in the world“.

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