President Biden on Saturday admonished Russia after the country backed out of a deal to allow Ukrainian grain exports to move through the port of the Black Sea, in a move that could potentially cause increasing food shortages across hotbed global areas.
"It's purely outrageous," Biden told reporters of the move, per Bloomberg. "It's going to increase starvation."
Biden's anger was echoed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said in a statement, "The United States regrets Russia's suspension of its participation in the operations of the U.N.-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative ... Russia is again weaponizing food in the war it started, directly impacting low- and middle-income countries and global food prices, and exacerbating already dire humanitarian crises and food insecurity."
Known officially as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the United Nations-backed deal is considered one of the most important economic alliances in the world, especially when it comes to getting food for impoverished areas facing hunger shortages. The USDA noted that Ukraine is one of the world's top agricultural producers, with Ukrainian agricultural exports totaling $27.8 billion in 2021.
Russia claimed that it decided to exit the grain deal after a strike on a Crimean base that it blamed on Ukraine. However, Ukraine has not taken responsibility for the attack, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky joined the global community in lambasting Russia's decision.
"This is an absolutely transparent intention of Russia to return the threat of large-scale famine to Africa and Asia," Zelensky said in a statement.