Due to Russian aggression, the export of Ukrainian wheat fell by half compared to the same period last year.

The United States supports the efforts of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to return Ukrainian grain to the international market under conditions of war, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.

“He told us about his plans and discussions on this issue with Ukrainians and Russians,” Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters, without specifying details.

After visiting Moscow and Kyiv at the end of last month, Guterres said he was determined to help bring Ukrainian agricultural products, as well as food and fertilizers from Russia and Belarus back to world markets, despite the war.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Guterres asked Russia to allow the shipment of Ukrainian grain in exchange for steps that will help facilitate Russian and Belarusian exports of potash fertilizers.

Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric declined to comment. The Russian mission to the UN in New York has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 led to a sharp increase in world prices for grain, vegetable oil, fuel and fertilizers. The UN Secretary General warned that this would worsen the food crisis in poor countries.

Ukraine and Russia together account for almost a third of the world’s wheat supplies. Ukraine is also a major exporter of corn, barley, sunflower and rapeseed oil, while Russia and Belarus account for more than 40% of world exports of potash fertilizers.

The war also disrupted shipping in the Black Sea, which led to the cessation of exports from Ukraine and Russia. Exports from Ukraine are now carried out by rail and through small ports on the Danube River. According to the Ministry of Agriculture of Ukraine, in May grain exports decreased by more than half compared to the same period last year.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield noted that the United States did not impose sanctions on Russian agricultural products.

Antonio Guterres said 36 countries rely on Ukraine and Russia for wheat supplies, including some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.