Written by EDITH M.LEDERER, Associated Press
United Nations (Associated Press) – US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken accused Russia on Thursday of weaponizing food and holding grain for millions of people around the world hostage to help achieve what the invasion of Ukraine did not – “to break the spirit of Ukrainian people.”
He told a meeting of the UN Security Council called by the United States that the war halted maritime trade in large areas of the Black Sea and made the region unsafe for navigation, blockaded Ukrainian agricultural exports and endangered the global food supply.
Blinken said the meeting, which he chaired, is taking place “in a moment of unprecedented global hunger” fueled by climate change and COVID-19 “and made worse by conflict.”
He said that since the Russian invasion on February 24, its naval operations have sought to control access to the northwest Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and close Ukrainian ports, which the United States sees as an “intended effort” to prevent safe passage. Shipping is closed.
“As a result of the actions of the Russian government, about 20 million tons of unused grain remained in Ukrainian silos as the global food supply dwindled, and prices rose dramatically, causing more food insecurity around the world,” Blinken said.
Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, rejected “completely false” allegations by the United States and Western countries “that we want to starve everyone to death and only you and Ukraine care about how to save the life of the country.”
“You confirm that we are blocking agricultural products from Ukraine by sea,” he said. “However, the fact is that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that blocked 75 ships from 17 states in the ports of Nikolaev, Kherson, Chernomorsk, Mariupol, Uchakov, Odessa and Yuzhny and mined the waterways.”
“Unless this problem is resolved, we cannot talk about any opportunities to export Ukrainian grain by sea,” Nebenzia warned.
He stressed that Russia remains a “responsible supplier of food and energy.”
He said Russia expects a record wheat harvest and could offer to export 25 million tons of grain from August 1 to the end of the year through the Novorossiysk port, and is also ready to discuss at least 22 million tons of fertilizer for export. From June to December.
But Nebenzia said that more than 10,000 sanctions against Russia have disrupted transportation routes, impeded the movement of Russian ships, prevented them from entering ports, caused shipping and insurance problems, restricted commercial transactions and created difficulties in banking.
“If you don’t want the sanctions of your choosing to be lifted, why are you accusing us of causing this food crisis?” he asked. “Why, as a result of your irresponsible geopolitical games, should the poorest countries and regions suffer?”
Blinken called Russia’s claims that sanctions are responsible for exacerbating the global food crisis as false, declaring that “the decision to weaponize food is the decision of Moscow and Moscow alone.”
“Sanctions do not close Black Sea ports, lock up ships full of food, and destroy Ukrainian roads and railways; he said. “Sanctions do not lead to the emptying of Ukrainian granaries and the theft of Ukrainian agricultural equipment; Russia is. “
Blinken said the sanctions imposed by the United States and many other countries do not prevent Russia from exporting food and fertilizer because they exclude exports of food, fertilizer and seeds. “We work with countries every day to make sure that they understand that sanctions are not preventing the flow of these materials,” he said.
UN Food Director David Beasley has warned the Security Council that the war in Ukraine has created an “unprecedented crisis” of soaring food prices that has already sparked protests, riots and growing hunger that will add at least 47 million people to the 276 million “walking to the Famine “before Russia invaded its smaller neighbour.
The Executive Director of the World Food Program said that 49 million people in 43 countries are already “knocking on the door of famine”.
Beasley noted that when food prices spiraled out of control in 2007 and 2008, more than 40 countries faced political turmoil, riots and protests.
“We are already seeing riots and protests happening as we speak – Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Pakistan, Peru,” he said. We have already seen destabilizing dynamics in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad. These are only signs of things to come.”
Beasley urged world leaders to do everything in their power to “restore markets to stability because things are only going to get worse”.
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