The Ukrainian embassy in Cairo has said that Russia is blocking the movement of a ship filled with wheat from Ukraine bound for Egypt.

According to UkrAgroConsult, the ship carrying the wheat is currently being held at the Chernomorsk port in the Black Sea. The Russian embassy in Cairo has denied the claim.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on 24 February, has massively affected the supply of wheat to countries in the MENA region, including Egypt, by cutting off shipments to the North African country.

Egypt is one of the largest importers of wheat with Russia and Ukraine accounting for 80 per cent of imports.

The price of bread has risen dramatically in a country where living prices are already soaring and the economy is on its knees.

In March it was reported that the Egyptian government had taken steps to protect wheat supplies in the country including that Egyptian farmers would have to sell at least 60 per cent of their wheat to the government. It said if they don’t, they will lose support from the Agricultural Bank of Egypt and access to subsidised fertilisers.

The Centre for Global Development has said that the massive spike in food and energy prices which are a result of the Russian invasion will push 40 million people into poverty.

The most immediate concern, said researchers, was for direct wheat customers of Ukraine and Russia, which include Egypt.

Egypt has been in talks once again with the IMF for a fourth loan since 2016 to help the country.

Following the Russian invasion, inflation surged. It was already at a ten year high largely to do with the fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic.

A third of Egypt’s population live in poverty and this looks set to worsen in the coming months.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia have pledged a joint total of $15 billion in investments for the cash strapped country.