G7 warn of Ukraine grain crisis, ask China not to aid Russia


Photo source: AP

Odessa: A man clears debris next to a shopping and entertainment mall destroyed by a Russian missile strike on May 9

The Group of Seven leading economies warned on Saturday that the war in Ukraine is creating a global food and energy crisis that threatens poor countries and urgent action is needed to block grain stores that are preventing Russia from leaving Ukraine. German Foreign Minister Analena Bayerbock, who hosted a meeting of top G-7 diplomats, said the war had become a “global crisis”.

Bearback says 50 million people, especially in Africa and the Middle East, will face starvation in the coming months unless a way is found to release Ukrainian grain, which is responsible for a large part of global supply.

In a statement issued after a three-day meeting on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast, the G-7 pledged more humanitarian assistance to the weakest.

“The war on Russian aggression has created the most severe food and energy crisis in recent history and is now a threat to the most vulnerable people in the world,” the group said.

“We are committed to accelerating an integrated multilateral response to global food security and to standing by our weakest partners in this regard.”

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie says her country, another major agricultural exporter, is ready to send ships to European ports to bring Ukrainian grain to those in need.

“We need to make sure that these serials are sent to the world,” he told reporters. “Otherwise, millions of people will face famine.” The G-7 countries have called on China not to help Russia, undermining international sanctions or justifying Moscow’s move in Ukraine.

Beijing should support Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence and not “assist Russia in its war of aggression,” they said.

The G-7 called on China to “refrain from manipulating, confusing and engaging in other means to legitimize Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”

The group, made up of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, has also reiterated its position that Russian-occupied territories need to be returned to Ukraine.

“We will never recognize the border that Russia has tried to change through military aggression,” they said. The meeting at Weisenhaus, northeast of Hamburg, was billed as an opportunity for officials to discuss geopolitics, energy and food security, and the broader impact of the war on ongoing international efforts to combat climate change and epidemics.

In one concluding statement after another, the G-7 countries have addressed a wide range of global issues, from the situation in Afghanistan to the Middle East tensions.

On Friday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba appealed to friendly countries to increase pressure on Russia, including providing more military assistance to Kiev and confiscating its assets abroad to fund Ukraine’s reconstruction. Kuleba said his country was willing to talk to Russia about lifting the blockade on grain supplies to Ukraine and reaching a political agreement to end the war on its own, but had not yet received a “positive response” from Moscow.

German Chancellor Olaf Schulz said in an interview on Saturday that he had not seen any change in Putin’s position recently.
Schulz, who spoke at length with the Russian leader on Friday, told the German news portal T-Online that Putin had failed to achieve the military objectives he had set for the war and that his decades-long campaign in Afghanistan had lost more Russian troops during the Soviet era.

“Putin should gradually begin to realize that the only way out of this situation is through an agreement with Ukraine,” Schulz said.

One idea discussed at the G-7 meeting was whether the seizure of Russian state assets abroad could be used to fund Ukraine’s reconstruction.
“Russia is responsible for the massive damage caused by this war,” said Bayerbock. “And that’s why it’s a question of justice for Russia to pay the price.”

But he added that unlike Canada – where the law allows repossession of confiscated funds – the legal basis for doing so in Germany is uncertain.

“But what exactly are such meetings for, an exchange of ideas on how to resolve these legal issues,” Bearback said. Many foreign ministers were scheduled to attend an informal meeting of NATO diplomats in Berlin on Saturday and Sunday.

The meeting will consider steps by Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance amid concerns about the Russian threat, as well as how NATO can support Ukraine without getting involved in the conflict.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who was unable to attend the G-7 summit after recovering from a COVID-19 infection, was expected to attend the NATO summit.

Read more: US announces new sanctions, G7 to phase out Russian oil imports

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