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Russia putting world at the risk of famine, EU top diplomat warns

Josep Borrell accuses Moscow of ‘weaponizing’ grain shipments from Ukraine and using them to ‘blackmail’ anyone that ‘opposes its aggression’

A Russian soldier guards a pier with the grain storage in the background at an area of the Mariupol Sea Port which has recently started its work after heavy fighting in Mariupol, on the territory which is under the Government of the Donetsk People's Republic control, eastern Ukraine, June 12, 2022. This photo was taken during a trip organized by the Russian Ministry of Defense. (AP Photo)
A Russian soldier guards a pier with the grain storage in the background at an area of the Mariupol Sea Port which has recently started its work after heavy fighting in Mariupol, on the territory which is under the Government of the Donetsk People's Republic control, eastern Ukraine, June 12, 2022. This photo was taken during a trip organized by the Russian Ministry of Defense. (AP Photo)

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Russia is putting the world at risk of famine through its blockade of Ukraine’s shipments of grains and restrictions on its own exports, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Saturday.

The threat to food security and a “battle of narrative” with Russia on Western-imposed sanctions on Moscow over Ukraine will dominate European Union foreign ministers’ talks in Luxembourg on Monday.

“We are ready to work with the UN and our partners to prevent any unwanted impact on global food security,” Borrell said in an article published on his official blog.

“Russia’s conscious political choice is to weaponize grain exports and use them as a tool for blackmail against anyone that opposes its aggression in Ukraine,” Borrell said.

“Russia turned the Black Sea into a war zone, blocking shipments of grain and fertilizer from Ukraine but also affecting Russian merchant shipping. Russia is also applying quotas and taxes on its grain exports,” he added.

The sanctions imposed by the EU “do not prohibit Russia to export any agricultural goods, payment for such Russian exports or the provision of seeds, provided that sanctioned individuals or entities are not involved.”

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell attends a plenary session titled ‘Transforming for a New Era,’ during the Doha Forum in Qatar’s capital, on March 26, 2022. (Karim Jaafar/AFP)

“We are fully aware that there is a ‘battle of narratives’ around this issue” of sanctions, Borrell continued.

He added that it was imperative that Ukrainian exports be allowed to resume by ship.

“We are working closely with the UN on this issue and the EU and its member states are ready to do their part of the necessary actions to achieve this.

“We hope that a solution can be found in the coming days. Not doing this threatens to cause a global food catastrophe,” he warned.

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