European Council President Charles Michel on Monday accused Russia of using the food supply as “a stealth missile against developing countries” and blamed the Kremlin for the looming global food crisis.prompting Moscow’s ambassador to the UN to walk out of a Security Council meeting.
Michel addressed the Russian ambassador directly, Vassily Nebenziaat the Council meeting, saying that he saw million tons of grain and wheat stuck in containers and ships in the Ukrainian port of Odessa a few weeks ago.
That was “because of Russian warships in the Black Sea”and Moscow’s attacks on transport infrastructure and grain storage facilities, as well as its tanks, bombs and mines that prevent Ukraine from planting and harvesting, he said.
“This is driving up food prices, pushing people into poverty and destabilizing entire regions”Michael said. “Russia is solely responsible for this looming food crisis. Only Russia”he added.
Michel also accused the Russian forces of steal grain from areas it has occupied “while shifting the blame from others”, qualifying this as “cowardly” and “propaganda, pure and simple”.
Nebenzia walked out of Michel’s briefing, giving up Russia’s seat to another diplomat.
Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskylater wrote on the Russian Telegram channel that Michel’s comments were “so rude” that the Russian ambassador walked out the Security Council room.
The Security Council meeting was to focus on the sexual violence during the war in Ukraine, but the Russian invasion and its consequences were also raisedespecially in the global food shortage and rising prices.
Michel strongly supported the efforts of the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, to achieve a global agreement that would allow grain exports from Ukraine. and ensure that Russian food and fertilizers have unrestricted access to world markets.
Ukraine and Russia jointly produce almost a third of the world’s wheat and barley and half of its sunflower oil.while Russia and its ally Belarus are the world’s number two and three producers of potash, a key ingredient in fertilizers.
Guterres warned last month that levels of hunger in the world “are at a new level”, as the number of people facing severe food insecurity has doubled in just two years, rising from 135 million before the COVID-19 pandemic to 276 million today. He said more than 500,000 people are living in famine conditions, an increase of more than 500% since 2016.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsyatold the Security Council on Monday that the country remains committed to finding solutions to avert the global food crisis and is willing to create “necessary conditions” to resume exports from the key southern port of Odessa.
“The question is how to ensure that Russia does not abuse the trade route to attack the city itself,” he said.
Kyslytsya said that the issue has become more relevant since Four Russian missiles hit a plant in kyiv on Sundaywhere freight cars transporting grain to Ukrainian ports were being repaired.
“It means that all Putin’s fairy tales about his readiness to facilitate the export of Ukrainian wheat, which he tells so eloquently to his few interlocutors, are too far from reality”, indicated the Ukrainian ambassador.
Nevertheless, “we continue to work with the UN and our partners to ensure the operation of maritime rules for the expert on Ukrainian agricultural products,” Kyslytsya said.
“As a first step,” he noted, “Russia must withdraw its naval forces in the maritime waters surrounding Ukraine and offer security guarantees against attacks on ports” and against commercial ships.
The US Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinkenin a virtual roundtable with private sector groups on conflict-related food security issues, accused Russian forces of planting explosives on farmland caught and cornering Ukraine’s food exports.
Blinken said that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin is doing this and “aggressively using his propaganda machine to deflect or distort responsibility because he hopes that will make the world give in to him and then sanctions.”. In other words, quite simply: it is blackmail.”
“The Kremlin has to realize that it is exporting hunger and suffering far beyond Ukraine’s borders,” and that Africa is experiencing “an inordinate share of the pain,” he said.
(With information from AP)
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