On Monday June 6, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called “credible” reports that Russia had stolen Ukrainian grain. This allegation has already been made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“There are credible reports … that Russia is stealing Ukraine’s grain exports to resell for profit,” Blinken told a State Department conference on security issues. food resulting from the invasion of Ukraine.
“Now Russia is also hoarding its food exports,” Blinken added, laying out the reasons for the sharp rise in world prices for wheat and other grains, and impending shortages.
Blinken noted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had “a devastating impact on global food security since Ukraine was ‘one of the breadbaskets of the world.’
The New York Times reported on Monday that a number of cargo ships left Russian-controlled ports with what US officials described as “stolen Ukrainian grain”.
The report said the United States has alerted 14 countries, mostly in Africa, to the shipments, as many of them depend on grain imports and are already facing severely constrained supplies.
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Blinken said the Russian Navy was trying to “blackmail” the world into supporting Russia’s war by preventing grain carriers from leaving the Black Sea port of Odessa.
“Right now, a Russian naval blockade in the Black Sea is preventing Ukrainian crops from being shipped to their normal destinations,” he said.
“Somewhere there are about 20 million tons of wheat that are trapped in silos near Odessa, and in ships literally full of grain that are stuck in the port of Odessa because of this Russian blockade.”
Blinken said it was a deliberate strategy by Russian President Vladimir Putin to force the rest of the world to “give in” to him and remove sanctions against Russia.
“In other words, quite simply, it’s blackmail,” Blinken said.
(With agency contributions)
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Post expires at 9:33pm on Thursday June 16th, 2022