Guatemala president warns millions could die as visits Ukraine

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Millions around the world could die due to the "food crisis" caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei said during a visit to Ukraine on Monday.

Giammattei, who was invited to Ukraine by counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to view the damage caused by Russia's invasion, hit out at the war's global impact.

"An irrefutable proof of the consequences of this war are the global economic effects that have generated inflation, increased the cost of living and produced more poverty," he said in a joint statement with Zelensky published by the Guatemalan presidency.

And he warned that the conflict would cause a future "food crisis that could mean the death of millions of people."

Central America has been badly affected by the war as it imports all of its grain from the conflict zone.

Ukraine has been unable to export grain since the beginning of Russia's invasion due to a blockade of its Black Sea ports by Kremlin forces.

"The whole world is suffering the serious consequences of the Russian aggression such as the food crisis and price destabilization," said Zelensky.

"The cost of living is unfairly rising and only together can we protect the world and international legal order."

Zelensky thanked Giammattei for his visit and called on the international community to set up a special court to "punish Russia for its aggression."

During the visit, the two countries agreed to scrap visa requirements for Guatemalans traveling to Ukraine and to establish direct business contacts.

The visit was arranged during a telephone conversation between the two presidents in June, after which Giammattei had said they "spoke about reconstruction in Ukraine, where they need laborers, and so (Zelensky) asked that Guatemalans travel to work in Ukraine."

In a brief press release, Guatemala's communication secretariat for the presidency gave no details on when the visit began or how long it would last.

Following Russia's initial invasion of Ukraine, Giammattei closed Guatemala's embassy in Moscow.

The Central American country exports nickel to Ukraine while importing iron and steel.

Despite breaking off diplomatic relations with Russia, Guatemala continues to export coffee and bananas to the Eurasian powerhouse, while importing fertilizer, medical supplies and paper.

Russian troops invaded Ukraine on February 24 following months of rising tensions between the neighbors.

Like many countries affected by the war, Guatemala has since seen fuel prices shoot up.

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