BEIRUT — Ukrainian Ambassador to Lebanon Ihor Ostash gave an update Thursday on the Russian invasion of his country and its repercussions on Lebanon, speaking about Lebanese students studying there and saying the attack will negatively affect Lebanon's food supply.
Here’s what we know:
• "As of today, 90 percent of Lebanese students have been evacuated from Ukraine via Bucharest and Warsaw,” Ostash said. “It should be remembered that in Ukraine today, there are 1,175 Lebanese students who are continuing their studies,” he said.
• “In the city of Kharkiv, there are 41 universities, 8 of which welcome students from Lebanon,” the diplomat said, adding that "today, Russia brazenly offers Lebanese students pursuing their studies in Ukraine scholarships to study in Russia.”
• "The Russian invasion of Ukraine will negatively affect the food supply in Lebanon. At the same time, I would like to emphasize that at the present moment, it will be difficult to find an alternative to Ukrainian products since our country produces 10 percent of the world's cereals and 60 percent of [vegetable] oil," Ostash said.
• Lebanon has been importing almost all of its wheat for years from Russia and Ukraine who are now involved in an armed conflict against each other.
• In a recent interview with L’Orient-Le Jour, Economy and Trade Minister Amin Salam said that “Following the suspension of wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia, we turned to alternative markets, such as India, Kazakhstan, the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina and certain European countries.”
• Salam added that the 650,000 tons of wheat Lebanon consumes each year is a small amount when compared to the 20 million tons of wheat reserves possessed by a country like India, with whom Lebanon is currently in talks for an import deal.