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Blinken to Russia: Stop using food as 'weapon of war' in Ukraine, Syria

Wheat prices in the Middle East have risen since Russia's abandonment of the grain deal last month.
Grain is loaded aboard a cargo ship at the Azov Sea Port, Rostov region, on July 22, 2023. On July 21, 2023, Russia said that it understood the concerns African nations may have after Moscow left the Ukrainian grain deal, promising to ensure deliveries to countries in need. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Russian intransigence at the United Nations following Moscow’s blocking of a humanitarian aid pipeline in Syria and termination of a wartime grain pact with Ukraine.

Blinken, who on Thursday chaired a debate on food security at the UN’s headquarters in New York, told member states that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has resulted in an “assault on the global food system."

Last month, Russia ended its participation in the so-called Black Sea Grain Initiative that permitted safe passage of grain exports amid the Russian naval blockade of Ukrainian ports. For the past year, the maritime humanitarian corridor kept grain flowing to Middle East, African and Asian countries that are heavily dependent on food imports.    

Dubbed the world’s breadbasket, Ukraine accounted for 10% of the wheat market, 15% of the corn market and 13% of the barley market before the war. Since the agreement was signed in July 2022 at Istanbul’s Dolmabahce Palace, nearly 33 million tons of Ukrainian grain and other goods have been exported through the northwestern Black Sea.

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