The UK Government has condemned Russia's "despicable blockade" of a Ukrainian port city that is preventing the war-torn country from exporting vital food supplies. 

It comes after transport secretary Grant Shapps warned that a famine caused by grain and food shortages could "dwarf" deaths caused by the war itself. 

Supplies of food and grain from Ukraine have been stopped since Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded, as the Russian navy blockades Odesa.

Millions of metric tons of grain are sitting in silos in the port city and other Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea. 

Emergency co-ordinator for the UN's World Food Programme Matthew Hollingworth warned of a devastating impact across the globe.

He told Sky News:"There's no question it's going to mean areas of starvation in the world are going to get worse. That famine will get worse.

"And we're in a situation where the world's economies are only partially getting better from COVID-19 and this situation is going to tip many countries over the edge."

The Government is working "intensively" with international allies to find ways to resume grain exports from Odesa but said there were "no plans" to deploy Royal Navy warships to the Black Sea. 

The idea of a “protective corridor” from Odesa was raised by Lithuania’s foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, The Times reported, with the potential for a “coalition of the willing” to provide ships.

A UK Government spokesman said: “Putin’s despicable blockade of Odesa is preventing food getting to people who need it.

“We will continue to work intensively with international partners to find ways to resume the export of grain from Ukraine.

“However, there are no current plans to deploy UK warships to the Black Sea.”