Russia’s blockade of grain exports is a war crime: EU’s top diplomat
Luxembourg, Jun 20 (EFE).- The European Union’s foreign affairs chief said on Monday Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian grain exports was a war crime and that he was confident the United Nations would reach an accord to resolve the crisis.
“I am sure that the United Nations will at the end reach an agreement,” Josep Borrell told reporters ahead of the EU’s foreign affairs council.
“It’s inconceivable,” he said. “We cannot imagine that millions of tons of wheat remain blocked in Ukraine while in the rest of the world people are suffering from hunger.
“This is a real war crime, so I cannot imagine that this will last much longer otherwise it will be something that Russia will really be accountable for. You cannot use the hunger of people as a war arm.”
The Spanish politician said he was optimistic that the UN — which has been working with other partners including Turkey for weeks to try and broker an agreement to facilitate both the export of Ukrainian grain and Russian grain and fertilizers to avert a food crisis — would achieve its goal of liberating Ukraine’s ports.
Borrell added that “the consequences of the war are becoming very very dangerous, not only for Ukraine but for the whole world” and warned of the “risk of great famine in the world and especially in Africa” due to the increase in prices and food and energy shortages.
“I want to insist that it is not European sanctions that are creating this crisis,” Borrell said. “Our sanctions don’t target food, don’t target fertilizers. Everyone that wants to buy Russian food and fertilizers, they can do it. No obstacles. The economic actors have to know that there are products from Russia that are out of the scope of our sanctions.”
Borrell stressed that “the problem comes from the Russian blockade of the Ukrainian grain, millions of tons of wheat are being blocked and millions of people will not be able to eat this wheat, so the war is going to have dramatic consequences for the world.”
“We call on Russia to deblock the ports, and let these products through,” the foreign affairs chief added.
Dutch minister, Wokpe Hoekstra, echoed Borrell’s concerns of an imminent food insecurity crisis.
“We are truly in dire straights, it is tremendously important for people in Africa, for people across the globe who might not only face higher food prices but also face the potential effects of hunger and all the misery that comes with it so it is essential that we solve this ASAP,” Hoekstra said. “As long as we don’t step into the trap of being blackmailed by Moscow any solution that works is something that we are open to,”
“We can’t get everything out but if we manage to get something through different paths, it helps the global challenge,” his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, told reporters.
Lithuanian minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, agreed that the only possible route to get the blocked grain out of Ukraine was through the Black Sea. EFE