G7 warns of grain crisis in Ukraine, asks China not to help Russia

Annalena Baerbock, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, welcomes Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, for bilateral talks at the Schlossgut during the summit of foreign ministers of the G7 Group of the main democratic economic powers at the Weissenhaus resort in Weissenhaeuser Strand, Germany, Friday, May 13, 2022.

Marcus Brandt/AP


hide caption

toggle subtitle

Marcus Brandt/AP


Annalena Baerbock, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, welcomes Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, for bilateral talks at the Schlossgut during the summit of foreign ministers of the G7 Group of the main democratic economic powers at the Weissenhaus resort in Weissenhaeuser Strand, Germany, Friday, May 13, 2022.

Marcus Brandt/AP

WEISSENHAUS, Germany – The Group of Seven Leading Economies warned on Saturday that the war in Ukraine is fueling a global food and energy crisis that threatens poor countries, and urgent action is needed to unlock the grain stockpiles that Russia is preventing from leave Ukraine.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who hosted a meeting of top G-7 diplomats, said the war had become a “global crisis”.

She said up to 50 million people, mainly in Africa and the Middle East, will face hunger in the coming months unless ways are found to free up Ukrainian grain, which represents a sizable portion of the world’s supply.

In statements released at the end of the three-day meeting on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast, the G-7 pledged to provide more humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable.

“Russia’s war of aggression has spawned one of the most serious food and energy crises in recent history, which now threatens the most vulnerable across the world,” the group said.

“We are determined to accelerate a coordinated multilateral response to preserve global food security and support our most vulnerable partners in this regard,” he added.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said her country, another major agricultural exporter, is ready to send ships to European ports so that Ukrainian grain can be taken to those in need.

“We need to make sure these cereals are sent out into the world,” she told reporters. “If not, millions of people will face hunger.”

Russia has rejected the claim that it was responsible for worsening global hunger and rising food prices.

“Prices are rising because of sanctions imposed by the West under US pressure,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. “Failure to understand this is a sign of stupidity or intentional deception by the public.”

G-7 nations have also urged China not to help Russia, including undermining international sanctions or justifying Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

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

The G-7 urged China to “give up engaging in information manipulation, disinformation and other means to legitimize Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine”.

The grouping, which includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, also reiterated its position that territories taken by Russian forces need to be returned to Ukraine.

“We will never recognize the borders that Russia tried to change with military aggression,” they said.

The meeting in Weissenhaus, northeast of Hamburg, was heralded as an opportunity for officials to discuss the wider implications of the war for geopolitics, energy and food security and ongoing international efforts to combat climate change and the pandemic.

In a series of closing statements, the G-7 nations also addressed a wide range of global issues, from the situation in Afghanistan to tensions in the Middle East.

On Friday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on friendly countries to provide more military support to Kiev and increase pressure on Russia, including confiscating its assets abroad to pay for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

Kuleba said his country remains willing to talk to Russia about unlocking supplies of grain trapped in Ukraine’s silos and also about reaching a political agreement to end the war itself, but so far has not received “any positive feedback” from Moscow.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview published on Saturday that he had not detected any change in Putin’s stance recently.

Scholz, who spoke at length by phone with the Russian leader on Friday, told German news portal t-online that Putin had failed to achieve the military goals he set at the start of the war, losing more Russian soldiers than the Soviet Union. during his decade-long campaign in Afghanistan.

“Putin must slowly begin to understand that the only way out of this situation is through an agreement with Ukraine,” Scholz said.

One idea discussed at the G-7 meeting was whether Russian state assets frozen abroad could be used to pay for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

“Russia is responsible for the enormous damage resulting from this war,” Baerbock said. “And that’s why it’s a matter of fairness that Russia has to pay for this damage.”

But she added that unlike in Canada – where legislation allows seized funds to be repurposed – the legal basis for doing so in Germany is uncertain.

“But that’s exactly what these meetings are for, to exchange information about how to resolve these legal issues,” Baerbock said.

Many of the foreign ministers traveled straight to an informal meeting of NATO diplomats in Berlin on Saturday and Sunday.

That meeting will consider moves by Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance amid concerns about the threat from Russia, as well as ways in which NATO can support Ukraine without being dragged into the conflict.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was unable to attend the G-7 meeting after recovering from a COVID-19 infection, was expected at the NATO meeting.

Leave a Comment