Ukraine has called on the international community to demand that Russia immediately stop hindering Ukrainian grain exports and using food as a weapon.
Ukraine is “deeply concerned about the destructive actions” of Russia, which it says are obstructing a deal to enable grain shipments via the Black Sea to world markets, according to a joint statement from Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov on Wednesday.
“We call on the international community, in particular the U.N. and [Turkey] as guarantors of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, to demand from the Russian Federation to stop immediately the delays in the work of the Black Sea grain corridor, to stop Russia’s attempts to use food as a weapon and to unblock commercial navigation to the Ukrainian Black Sea ports,” the two ministers said.
The Black Sea grain deal, brokered by the U.N. and Turkey last July, ended a de facto blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports that followed Russia’s invasion last February, helping to ease supply scarcity and mitigate upward pressure on international food prices.
Since then, however, Russia has repeatedly said it is not seeing the benefit of its side of the bargain due to what the Kremlin calls “hidden” Western sanctions hampering its food and fertilizer exports. Despite Russia’s threats to pull out of the deal, last November it was extended until March 19.
Ukraine responds that Russia is deliberately slowing down the grain agreement by extending the length of inspections for ships heading to and from its Black Sea ports.
More than 140 vessels are queuing up at Turkey’s strategic Bosphorus Strait — through which Ukrainian grain cargoes must pass to reach global markets — due to the delays in inspections by Russia, according to the statement. “The food security of countries that depend on the export of Ukrainian agricultural products is under threat,” it added.
Russia denied similar accusations from Kyiv in October.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin cast doubt on the future of the Black Sea grain deal when he told Russian media on Monday that it would be “inappropriate” to extend the agreement unless sanctions affecting Russian agricultural exports were lifted.
Source : Politico