G7 warns of Ukraine food crisis, asks China not to aid Russia

Weisenhaus, Germany – The G7 warned on Saturday that the war in Ukraine is triggering a global food and energy crisis threatening poor countries and urgent measures are needed to relieve Russia of food stocks that are preventing it from leaving Ukraine.

The war has become a “global crisis”, said German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock, who chairs a meeting of senior G7 diplomats.

Baerbock said as many as 50 million people could face starvation in the coming months, especially in Africa and the Middle East, unless a way was found to free up Ukrainian food, which accounts for a sizable share of the global supply.

In a statement issued at the end of a three-day meeting on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast, the G7 pledged to provide further humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable.

“Russia’s war of aggression unleashed one of the worst food and energy crises in recent history and now threatens the world’s most vulnerable,” the group said.

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

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said her country, another major agricultural exporter, was ready to send ships to European ports to bring Ukrainian food to those in need.

“We need to make sure these grains are getting around the world,” she told reporters. “Otherwise, millions of people will face starvation.”

The G7 also called on China not to help Russia, including undermining international sanctions or justifying Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

Instead of “assisting Russia in its war of aggression,” they said, Beijing should support Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence.

The G7 urged China to “stop engaging in information manipulation, disinformation and other means to legitimize Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine”.

The group, made up of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, also reiterated its position that territories occupied by Russian forces need to be returned to Ukraine.

“We will never admit that Russia is trying to change its borders through military aggression,” they said.

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

In a series of closing remarks, the G7 countries also discussed a wide range of global issues, from the situation in Afghanistan to tensions in the Middle East.

On Friday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba called on friendly countries to provide Kyiv with more military support and increased pressure on Russia, including seizing its assets overseas to pay for rebuilding Ukraine.

Kuleba said his country was still open to dialogue with Russia about lifting food supplies stuck in Ukrainian granaries and reaching a political deal to end the war itself, but so far he had not received “positive feedback” from Moscow .

German Chancellor Olaf Schultz said in an interview published Saturday that he had not noticed any recent change in Putin’s stance.

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

“Putin should slowly start to understand that the only way out of this situation is to make a deal with Ukraine,” Scholz was quoted as saying.

One idea discussed at the G7 meeting was whether Russia’s frozen state assets abroad could be used to pay for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

“Russia is responsible for the huge losses caused by this war,” Belbok said. “That’s why it’s a matter of justice that Russia should pay for this damage.”

But she added that, unlike Canada, where legislation allows for the repurposing of confiscated funds for other purposes, the legal basis for doing so in Germany is uncertain.

“But that’s exactly what these kinds of meetings are for, to communicate how to address these legal issues,” Belbok said.

A number of foreign ministers were scheduled to attend an informal meeting of NATO diplomats in Berlin on Saturday and Sunday.

The meeting will consider moves by Finland and Sweden to join a military alliance amid fears of a Russian threat, as well as ways for NATO to support Ukraine without getting involved in the conflict.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was unable to attend the G-7 meeting after recovering from a COVID-19 infection and is expected to attend the NATO meeting.

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