The European Union called on Russia to reverse its decision to pull out of the U.N.-led grain initiative and to allow the grain shipments to leave Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted on Sunday: “Russia’s decision to suspend participation in the Black Sea deal puts at risk the main export route of much needed grain and fertilizers to address the global food crisis caused by its war against Ukraine. The EU urges Russia to revert its decision.”
“Russia must go back to agreement to allow maritime corridor for food to reach the world. The EU will play its part to counter the global food crisis,” Borrell tweeted.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) warned of catastrophic consequences of Russia suspending its participation in the U.N.-brokered grain deal. With the war in Ukraine altering the global patterns of food production and supply, inflation in low-income countries has surged to almost 90%. An estimated 345 million people will experience acute food insecurity this year, the agency said.
As tens of millions of people continue to experience extreme hunger in East Africa and Somalia teeters on the brink of famine as a result of the worst drought in 40 years, the renewed blockade will continue to impede the import of 80% of the grain imported from the Russia-Ukraine region, thereby driving further hunger, the IRC warned.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who is “deeply concerned” about the grain initiative, has delayed his trip to Algiers for the Arab League Summit by a day to “engage in intense contacts aiming at the end of the Russian suspension of its participation,” U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a statement on Sunday.
“The same engagement also aims at the renewal and full implementation of the initiative to facilitate exports of food and fertilizer from Ukraine, as well as removing the remaining obstacles to the exports of Russian food and fertilizer,” Dujarric said.
The Kremlin announced its action on Saturday, claiming that Ukraine staged a drone attack against Russia’s Black Sea Fleet off occupied Crimea. Ukraine has denied the allegation.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the Russia’s exit “predictable.” He accused Moscow of “blockading” ships carrying grain since September, The Associated Press reported. Currently, 218 vessels are blocked from leaving Ukrainian ports as Russia says it cannot guarantee their safety.
Zelenskyy called for a tough response against Russia from international bodies like the U.N. and the G-20 group of the world’s major economies.
Speaking to reporters in Delaware Sunday, U.S. President Joe Biden called Russia’s decision to suspend participation from the Ukrainian grain deal “purely outrageous” and said it would increase starvation.
“There’s no merit to what they’re doing. The U.N. negotiated that deal and that should be the end of it,” Biden said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement, “In suspending this arrangement, Russia is again weaponizing food in the war it started, directly impacting low- and middle-income countries and global food prices and exacerbating already dire humanitarian crises and food insecurity.”
Blinken said the U.S. is urging “Russia to resume its participation in the Initiative, fully comply with the arrangement, and work to ensure that people around the world continue to be able to receive the benefits facilitated by the Initiative.”
On Sunday, the United Nations, Turkey and Ukraine agreed to a movement plan for 14 vessels that are in Turkish waters, the AP reported.
In a statement, the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul, where Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish and U.N. personnel are working, said the three delegations had also agreed for inspections to be provided on Monday to 40 outbound vessels.
Wheat futures are expected to soar Monday as Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea corridor agreement puts Ukrainian exports at risk.
Wheat markets have been volatile due to developments in Moscow’s eight-month-old invasion of Ukraine, as both countries are among the world’s largest wheat exporters.
The Russian Defense Ministry blamed an alleged Ukrainian drone attack against ships of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet anchored off the coast of occupied Crimea for its exit from the agreement. Russia said the attack took place early Saturday; Ukraine has denied the attack.
“In connection with the actions of Ukrainian armed forces … the Russian side cannot guarantee the safety of civilian dry cargo ships participating in the Black Sea initiative and suspends its implementation from today for an indefinite period,” the Russian statement said.
The Russian declaration came one day after the U.N.’s Guterres urged Russia and Ukraine to renew the grain deal.
Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s first deputy representative to the U.N., also said Saturday that Russia had requested a meeting Monday of the U.N. Security Council because of the alleged attack on the Black Sea Fleet and the security of the grain corridor.
Source: Voice of America