A spokeswoman for the Ukrainian army told AFP that Ukraine lacks air defenses to protect its grain export facilities from Russian strikes, at a time when Moscow imposed a blockade on most of the country’s ports.

“We need an enhanced, strong and modern air and anti-missile defense that can counter the types of missiles used by the enemy against us,” said Natalia Gomenyuk, a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian forces’ southern command.

It added that the Ukrainian forces need US F16 fighters capable of targeting Russian weapons systems and ships used to target southern Ukraine.

Ukraine has received advanced air defense systems from its Western allies, including the US Patriot system.

However, Natalia Gomenyuk insisted that Russia is improving its tactics every time and does not stop.

She pointed out that Moscow is simultaneously launching cruise missiles, hypersonic ones, and anti-ship missiles, which leads to dispersion of defense means, noting that these means are incapable of confronting this threat.

She added that Russia has strengthened its blockade of the Ukrainian ports since its withdrawal from the grain agreement, stressing that what is happening now is that almost all ports are closed… No ship can leave.

She stressed that Kiev relied on the “goodwill” of its Western allies to provide air defense systems on time.

Natalia Gomenyuk cautioned, “In two or three months, we probably won’t have any ports”.

Russia has abandoned an important agreement that allowed Ukraine since the summer of 2022 to export, including to Africa, its grain through the Black Sea, despite the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports.

In one year, this agreement allowed the transportation of about 33 million tons of grain from Ukrainian ports, which helped stabilize global food prices and avoid the risk of a crisis.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised, at the opening of a summit between Russia and Africa in St. Petersburg in the northwest of the country, six countries from this continent to secure free shipments ranging between 25 and 50 thousand tons of grain.

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