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A Tortoise File


The Ukrainian port normally feeds the world, but the Russian invasion means nothing is getting out. Can we reopen the port – or will millions starve?


First published
Monday 23 May 2022

Last updated
Sunday 22 May 2022

Why this story?

Odesa port, in full flow, is a sight to behold. Teeming with yellow cranes, large metal tanks, and container ships, the Black Sea hub is all industry and energy. Ukraine grows enough food for 400 million people and most of it is exported through Odesa, a fulcrum of the world’s food supply. Or at least it was, until Russia invaded. Now the port is a ghost town; sea mines and Russian warships leave little hope of any ship getting in or out. That is an unqualified disaster. Without Odesa vast swathes of the world, from the Atlantic to the Red Sea and far beyond, face starvation, death and mass exodus. Heat and drought, food protectionism and bad governance make the global situation ever more vulnerable. There are growing calls to reopen Odesa, and rightly so. But given an end to the blockade is in the gift of Vladimir Putin, what can the world actually do? For this episode of the Slow Newscast, we try to find an answer. Xavier Greenwood, Producer