- Russia has either blocked or attacked most of Ukraine's seaports.
- A UN official told CNN on Thursday that "millions" will die if Russia doesn't open Black Sea ports.
- Ukraine is one of the world's top agricultural exporters, providing around 12% of the world's grain.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
The head of the United Nations World Food Program pleaded with Russia's President Vladimir Putin to open the Black Sea ports before "millions" of people die of hunger, CNN reported.
"Millions of people around the world will die because these ports are being blocked," David Beasley said at a conference on Thursday, reported CNN.
When asked what he would say directly to Putin, Beasley said: "If you have any heart at all for the rest of the world, regardless of how you feel about Ukraine, you need to open up those ports."
Beasley said that the Ukrainian city of Odesa and other ports needed to be operational within the next 60 days to prevent a global food crisis, CNN reported.
"World leaders have got to put pressure on Russia in such a way that we can have absolute neutrality to move supplies in and out of Odesa," he said.
Russia has blocked hundreds of ships containing Ukrainian grain exports in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov since the start of its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
The city of Odesa — which has the largest Ukrainian seaport — has also come under regular Russian bombardment, The Guardian reported.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday urged the international community to immediately take measures to end the Russian blockade.
"Without our agricultural exports, dozens of countries in different parts of the world are already on the brink of food shortages," Zelenskyy told reporters after a visit from European Council President Charles Michel, The Times reported.
"And over time, the situation can become downright terrible… This is a direct consequence of Russian aggression, which can be overcome only together — by all Europeans, by the whole free world," he added.
Ukraine is one of the world's top agricultural exporters. It exports more than 12% of the world's wheat and almost half of its sunflower oil, The Times reported.