It has been 117 days since Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. What initially looked like an easy victory for Russia has morphed into a war of attrition with no end in sight- until now. Russia has effectively blocked Ukrainian ports, leaving much of the world’s grain supply in limbo. Click below to see more on Russia’s latest assault.
BBC: Russia blockading Ukrainian grain is a ‘real war crime’ – EU
BBC; June 20, 2022
Russia’s blockade of millions of tonnes of Ukrainian grain is a “real war crime”, says EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
“It is inconceivable – one cannot imagine that millions of tonnes of wheat remain blocked in Ukraine while in the rest of the world, people are suffering hunger,” Mr Borrell said.
“We call on Russia to deblockade the [Ukrainian] ports.”
EU foreign ministers met in Luxembourg on Monday to discuss the crisis.
Western countries have demanded Russia stop blockading Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and allow vast stores of grain to reach world markets.
The blockade has sparked warnings that tens of millions of people are at risk of famine and sent food prices soaring.
Mr Borrell said Russia’s war against Ukraine had had a damaging impact worldwide, which could be witnessed through food and energy prices.
In a news conference after the meeting, he said Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian grain exports was “a deliberate attempt to create hunger in the world” and place additional pressure on the EU and Ukraine.
According to Mr Borrell, EU foreign ministers will be contacting their counterparts across the African continent about sanctions on Russia.
He rejected Russia’s claim that the current food crisis is a result of EU sanctions, adding that EU sanctions “don’t forbid” countries outside of the EU from taking place in food trade practices with Russia or other countries.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine was engaged in “complex negotiations” to release its ports from Russia’s blockade.
Mr Zelensky said the global grain crisis would last as long as Russia’s “colonial war”.
He added that countries in the African Union were hostages of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Ahead of the meeting in Luxembourg, Mr Borrell said: “This is a real war crime, so I cannot imagine that this will last much longer.”
He said Russia should be held “accountable” if it keeps blocking the export of vitally needed grain from Ukraine.
The 27-nation bloc disputes Russia’s claims that rising prices and food shortages in the Middle East and Africa are down to EU sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine.
Mr Borrell added: “I want to insist that it’s not European sanctions that are creating this crisis – our sanctions don’t target food, don’t target fertilisers.
“The problem comes from the Russian blockade of Ukrainian grains.”
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said that “Russia must stop playing with global hunger” as it seeks leverage on the West.
“Leaving cereals blocked is dangerous for stability in the world,” she said.
The head of the Polish prime minister’s office, Michal Dworczyk, is due to speak with Ukrainian infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov about changes that will speed up checks for trucks on the Polish-Ukrainian border to help export more grain from Ukraine.