Russia's blockade of Ukrainian seaports since it withdrew from a UN-Turkey-brokered grain deal is 'scandalous' and 'must end', Charles Michel says , President of the European Council, to journalists in New Delhi. “It is frankly scandalous that Russia, after ending the Black Sea grain initiative, is blocking and attacking Ukrainian ports. This must stop,” Charles Michel said on the eve of a G20 summit.
Russia withdrew from the deal after saying it failed to achieve the goal of relieving hunger in Africa. The Kremlin has since asked Turkey to help Russia export its grain to African countries without Ukraine's intervention. "The Kremlin's offer of one million tons of grain to Africa is absolutely cynical," added Charles Michel.
Ukraine and Russia are major exporters of grain and seed oil. Last year's grain deal helped lower global food prices and provide Ukraine with an important source of revenue for its war effort. “Ships carrying grain must be able to safely access the Black Sea,” he stressed, specifying that the United Nations initiative had initially made it possible to deliver 32 million tonnes to the market, “particularly to countries in development ".
Russia has stepped up its attacks on Ukraine's transport infrastructure since it withdrew from the grain deal. "More than 250 million people face severe food insecurity around the world, and by deliberately attacking Ukrainian seaports, the Kremlin is depriving them of desperately needed food," he argued.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the G20 summit in India, and does not even plan to make a video speech there, due to tense relations between Moscow and many members of the bloc over Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will replace Vladimir Putin at the summit this weekend.