Russian UN envoy walks out after EU blames Kremlin for global food crisis

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United Nations (AP) – European Council President Charles Michel on Monday accused Russia of using the food supply as “a stealth missile against developing countries” and blamed the Kremlin for the escalating global food crisis, causing Moscow’s UN ambassador was prompted to leave the Security Council. meeting.

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Michel, addressing Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzia at the council meeting, said that he saw millions of tons of grain and wheat stuck in containers and ships a few weeks ago at the Ukrainian port of Odessa.

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This was “due to Russian warships in the Black Sea”, and Moscow’s attacks on transport infrastructure and grain storage facilities, and its tanks, bombs and mines that are preventing Ukraine from planting and harvesting, he said.

“It’s driving up food prices, pushing people into poverty, and destabilizing entire regions,” Mitchell said. “Russia is solely responsible for this impending food crisis. Russia alone.”

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Michel accused the Russian military of stealing grain from the occupied territories “while shifting the blame to others”, calling it “cowardly” and “propaganda, pure and simple”.

Nebenzia walked out during Michel’s briefing, giving Russia’s seat to another diplomat.

Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyansky later tweeted on Telegram’s Russian channel that Michel’s remarks were “so harsh” that the Russian ambassador left the Security Council chamber.

The Security Council meeting was supposed to focus on sexual violence during the war in Ukraine, but Russia’s aggression and consequences, particularly on global food shortages and rising prices, were also raised.

Michel gave strong support to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ efforts to achieve a package deal that would allow grain exports from Ukraine and ensure that Russian food and fertilizer had unrestricted access to global markets.

Ukraine and Russia together produce about a third of the world’s wheat and barley and half of sunflower oil, while Russia and its ally Belarus are the world’s number two and three producers of potash, a major component of fertiliser.

Guterres warned last month that global hunger levels were “at a new high,” with the number of people facing severe food insecurity rising from 135 million before the COVID-19 pandemic to 276 million today in just two years . He said more than 500,000 people are living in famine conditions – an increase of more than 500% since 2016.

Ukraine’s UN ambassador Sergei Kislitsia told the Security Council on Monday that the country was committed to finding solutions to contain the global food crisis and creating “prerequisites” for resuming exports from Odessa’s major southern port. ready for

“The question is how to ensure that Russia does not abuse the trade route to attack the city,” he said.

Kyslytsya said the question became more pertinent as four Russian missiles hit a plant in the capital Kyiv on Sunday, where cargo cars carrying grain to Ukrainian ports were being repaired.

“It means that all of Putin’s fairy tales about his readiness to facilitate Ukraine’s wheat exports mean that he tells his rare interlocutors a far cry from reality,” said the Ukrainian ambassador.

Nonetheless, “we continue our work with the United Nations and partners to ensure the functioning of the Maritime Rules to specialize in Ukrainian agricultural products,” Kyslytsya said.

“As a first step,” he said, “Russia should withdraw its naval forces into the sea waters around Ukraine and provide security guarantees against attacks in ports” and against commercial ships.

US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, in a virtual roundtable discussion with private sector groups on food security issues arising from the conflict, accused the Russian military of planting explosives in occupied farmland and hoarding Ukraine’s food exports.

Blinken said Russian President Vladimir Putin is doing so and “distracting or distorting responsibility by aggressively using his propaganda machine as he hopes it will get the world to give in to him and then sanctions. Others.” In other words, simply put: this is blackmail.”

“The Kremlin needs to realize that it is exporting starvation and suffering beyond Ukraine’s borders,” he said, adding that Africans are experiencing “a great deal of pain”.

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