EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s main grain exports a ‘real war crime’ as he arrived at a meeting of EU foreign ministers EU in Luxembourg on Monday.
“We call on Russia to unblock the [Ukrainian] ports… It’s inconceivable, you can’t imagine that millions of tons of wheat are stuck in Ukraine while in the rest of the world people are going hungry,” Borrell told reporters.
He accused Russia of weaponizing “people’s hunger” and said Moscow should be held “accountable” for its actions.
Germany pledges to support
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Berlin would support Poland and Romania in adapting their rail networks to help get the millions of tons of grain out of Ukraine.
“The railways need to be modernised, we need the right freight wagons – the German government is working on this together with many other players,” she said as she arrived at the meeting of EU foreign ministers. .
“It is clear that in the end we will certainly not be able to get all the grain out, but if we manage to even get some of it out, on different routes, it will help us as we face this global challenge.”
Baerbock added that Germany will host a conference on Friday on the issue of securing Ukraine’s food exports to “improve the humanitarian situation in the world and establish global food security on a more stable basis.”
Global food security crisis
Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of key commodities such as wheat and vegetable oil. The restriction of these goods on the world market – along with rising fuel prices – has helped to keep food prices well above normal levels.
The EU has been working on solutions to get grain and other goods out of Ukraine for export to other countries.
The bloc has backed a UN plan to broker a deal between Russia, Ukraine and Turkey to allow ships safe access to Ukrainian Black Sea ports.
The EU has also had to grapple with Russian claims that Western sanctions are responsible for rising food prices and shortages in Africa and the Middle East.
Borrell dismissed that narrative on Monday, saying, “I want to emphasize that it’s not European sanctions that are creating this crisis. Our sanctions aren’t targeting food, they’re not targeting fertilizers.”
Hungary offers territory for the transport of grain
At the meeting, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto offered his country’s territory as a possible route for the export of Ukrainian grain.
“We offered to let Hungarian territory pass, moreover, to facilitate the passage of any food shipments destined for various parts of the world from Ukraine, mainly to North Africa or the Middle East,” he said. Szijjarto.
He did not specify how much grain Hungary could accommodate, but proposed two logistics centers on its eastern border.
“So in case any type of grain or other products are exported from Ukraine to the Middle East or North Africa via Hungary, it could happen quickly,” Szijjarto said. “Rail access to ports in southeastern Europe is fast from Hungary.”
ab/kb (dpa, Reuters, AFP)
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