As Ukraine war grinds, world pushes for way to get grain out
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia pressed Thursday for the West to lift sanctions imposed because of its war in Ukraine, claiming without proof that the punitive measures are preventing millions of tons of grain and other agricultural products from leaving Ukrainian ports, exacerbating a global food crisis.
Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but the war, including a Russian blockade of its ports, has prevented most of those products from leaving the country, endangering the world food supply.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov sought to shift the blame to Western sanctions on Thursday. "We accuse Western countries of taking a series of unlawful actions that has led to the blockade.”
Western officials have dismissed Russia’s claims that sanctions are responsible. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted this week that food, fertilizer and seeds are exempt from sanctions imposed by the U.S. and many others — and that Washington is working to ensure countries know the flow of those goods should not be affected.
With the war grinding into its fourth month, world leaders ramped up calls for solutions this week.
“This food crisis is real, and we must find solutions,” World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday. “If we don’t find solutions, of course the countries that will suffer will be the poorer countries of the world.”
She said about 25 million tons of Ukrainian grain is presently in storage and another 25 million tons could be harvested next month.
The Russian Defense Ministry proposed Wednesday to open a corridor to allow foreign ships to leave Black Sea ports and another to allow vessels to leave Mariupol on the Azov Sea. But...