Kremlin accused of ‘weaponizing food’ in Ukraine grain deal shutdown – POLITICO

The United States has accused Moscow of “weaponizing food” by suspending its participation in a UN-brokered deal allowing grain shipments to leave Ukrainian ports.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres is engaged in ‘intense contacts’ aimed at bringing Russia back to the deal, the organization said on Sunday, after the Kremlin said on Saturday it was suspending the deal for an “indefinite period”, citing an attack on a base in occupied Crimea that Russia has blamed on Ukraine.

The grain export deal, designed to ensure Ukrainian agricultural products can reach international markets, is seen as essential to global food security given Ukraine’s role as a major food producer.

“Any act by Russia to disrupt these critical grain exports is essentially a statement that individuals and families around the world should pay more for food or go hungry,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. a statement. statement late Saturday. “By suspending this arrangement, Russia is again militarizing food in the war it started.”

US President Joe Biden called Russia’s move “purely outrageous”.

“It’s going to increase starvation,” Biden told reporters in Delaware on Saturday.

Russia’s ambassador to the United States on Sunday lambasted Washington for its reaction to Moscow’s decision and reiterated unsubstantiated allegations that British agents were involved in a drone attack on the Russian fleet in the seaport Black from Sevastopol in Crimea on Saturday.

“Washington’s reaction to the terrorist attack on the port of Sevastopol is truly outrageous,” Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said. said on Telegram.

The United States and the EU have called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to reverse his decision on the Black Sea grain deal.

“Russia’s decision to suspend its participation in the Black Sea agreement jeopardizes the main export route for cereals and fertilizers essential to face the world food crisis caused by its war against Ukraine. “said Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, in a statement. Tweeter.

The Joint Coordination Center — the body created by the UN, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine to coordinate food exports from Ukrainian ports – said he was “discussing next steps” following Moscow’s decision to suspend the Black Sea deal. At least 10 ships, both outgoing and incoming, are waiting to enter the humanitarian corridor established by the JCC, the center said on Saturday evening.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Moscow had been “deliberately aggravating” the food crisis since September. “This is an absolutely transparent Russian intention to deflect the threat of large-scale famine to Africa and Asia,” he said.

“From September to today, 176 ships have already accumulated in the grain corridor,” Zelenskyy said in his Saturday night speech. Some ships have been waiting for more than three weeks, he said.

Zelenskyy called for a “strong international response” to the Kremlin’s decision, pointing to the UN and “in particular” the G20. “How can Russia be part of the G20 if it is deliberately working towards starvation on several continents? This is nonsense,” Zelenskyy said.

Poland called the Kremlin’s decision “further proof that Moscow is unwilling to respect international agreements”.

“Poland, together with its EU partners, stands ready work more to help Ukraine and those in need to transport essential goods,” the Polish Foreign Ministry said in a tweet on Sunday.

Nahal Toosi contributed reporting from Washington.

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