U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Thursday accused Russia of using Ukraine’s food supply as a “hostage” and using it as a weapon in Ukraine.
In a speech to the UN Security Council, Blinken called on Russia to end its blockade of Ukraine’s ports. Russia invades Ukraine on 24 February, in what Moscow calls a “special military operation.”
“The Russian government thinks that using food as a weapon will help accomplish what its aggression did not do – to break the consciousness of the Ukrainian people,” he said. “The food supplies of millions of Ukrainians and millions more around the world have literally been taken hostage by the Russian military.”
The war in Ukraine has pushed up the price of grain, cooking oil, fuel and fertilizer worldwide.
Russia and Ukraine together account for about one-third of the world’s wheat supply. Ukraine is also a major exporter of corn, barley, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil, with Russia and Belarus – which backed Moscow in the Ukraine war – accounting for more than 40% of the global export of potash, a crop nutrient.
Blinken denies Russian allegations that Western sanctions on Moscow are fueling the food crisis for the Ukraine war.
“The decision to arm the food was made by Moscow and Moscow alone,” Blinken said. “As a result of the Russian government’s move, about 20 million tons of grain have been left unattended in Ukraine’s Silo, as global food supplies have dwindled, prices have skyrocketed, and more food insecurity is taking place around the world.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is seeking to broker a “package deal” that would allow Ukraine to resume food exports through the Black Sea and revive Russia’s food and fertilizer production on world markets.
“There is enough food for everyone in the world. The problem is distribution and it is deeply involved in the war in Ukraine,” Guterres told the council on Thursday.
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