Such an international mission would only increase tensions in the Black Sea, says Russian Deputy Foreign Minister
Moscow has warned against forming an international naval coalition to ensure ships carrying grain leave Ukrainian ports amid a claimed Russian blockade in the Black Sea.
Ships carrying grain have been unable to leave Ukraine amid the conflict between Moscow and kyiv. Ukrainian authorities and the West have accused Russia of blocking their passage, while Moscow has insisted that the logistical problems were created by naval mines placed by Ukraine.
The arrival of a foreign naval coalition “would seriously aggravate the situation in the Black Sea”, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko said on Wednesday.
The idea that “ready” countries should provide its warships and planes “to ensure that grain supplies can leave [the Ukrainian port city of] Odessa safely and reach the Bosphorus without Russian interference” was proposed by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis during his visit to Britain on Tuesday.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss reportedly expressed London’s support in principle for such a coalition. Not only the UK, but countries affected by grain shortages, such as Egypt, could join the non-NATO mission, according to Landsbergis.
Rudenko also responded to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who said on Tuesday that Moscow was “knowingly blocking the Black Sea and thus responsible for the starvation of millions of people.”
“We are always ready for dialogue with all those who fight for peace, for the peaceful resolution of all problems” and that includes the Ukrainian grain issue, the Russian diplomat said.
Rudenko recalled that Moscow has repeatedly stressed that “The solution to the food problem requires a comprehensive approach, including the removal of sanctions that have been imposed on Russian exports and financial transactions. It also obliges Ukraine to clear all ports where ships are moored.
“Russia is ready to provide the necessary humanitarian channel [for ships with grain] and it’s so every day,” he added.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres earlier warned that the fighting between Russia and Ukraine has brought the world to the brink. “a hurricane of hunger and a collapse of the global food system” as both countries are major food producers, accounting for, among other things, 30% of world wheat exports.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the republics from the Donbass of Donetsk and Lugansk. The protocols negotiated by Germany and France were designed to give breakaway regions a special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. kyiv insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied claims it planned to retake the two republics by force.