Blinken: Russia uses black sea grain deal for blackmail

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a powerful and impassioned plea, urging Russia to refrain from using the Black Sea grain deal as a means of "blackmail."

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken plea with Russia over grain deal.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

In a UN Security Council meeting focused on the use of hunger as a weapon, Blinken called on every member of the United Nations to stand together and demand an end to such unjust practices.

He implored Russia to recognize the dire consequences of their actions, stating, "Enough using the Black Sea as blackmail. Enough, treating the world's most vulnerable people as leverage. Enough of this unjustified, unconscionable war."

During the meeting, Blinken extended his gratitude to Türkiye and other countries for their ongoing efforts to reinstate the grain deal.

The agreement, signed in Istanbul in July 2022 by Russia, Ukraine, Türkiye, and the UN, aimed to create a safe corridor through the Black Sea for exports from three Ukrainian ports, mitigating the impacts of the war that began in February of the same year.

It played a pivotal role in reining in spiraling grain prices and alleviating a global food crisis by restoring the flow of essential commodities such as wheat, sunflower oil, fertilizer, and more from Ukraine –– one of the world's largest grain exporters.

However, Russia's decision to suspend the grain deal on July 17 has had far-reaching consequences. Blinken highlighted that since the suspension, grain prices have surged by over 8 percent worldwide, affecting food security and exacerbating hunger for countless people.

Despite the world's appeals, Russia cited unimplemented demands related to its fertilizer exports and the inclusion of a state-owned Russian Agricultural Bank in the SWIFT international payment system as the reasons for pulling out of the arrangement.

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Blinken emphasized that conflict remains the primary driver of food insecurity, with violence and unrest pushing a staggering 117 million people into extreme deprivation in the previous year alone.

He urged nations to rally behind a new joint communique that has already garnered support from nearly 90 countries, aiming to put an end to the cruel practice of using famine, starvation, and food as weapons of war.

The US Secretary of State made it clear that "hunger must not be weaponized" and called for united action to safeguard the most vulnerable populations from further suffering.

UN Famine Prevention and Response Coordinator Reena Ghelani underscored the severity of the situation, revealing that the number of people facing acute food insecurity reached a record of a quarter of a billion in the past year.

Ghelani stressed that the crisis is not an inevitable consequence but rather a man-made catastrophe that has been brewing for years.

"We are now at the tipping point," she warned, urging the international community to act decisively and collaboratively to address the crisis.

David Miliband, the president of the International Rescue Committee, also added his voice to the call for action. He highlighted the paradox of the world's increasing wealth alongside rising famine.

Miliband asserted that famine is not an uncontrollable fate but a political problem, emphasizing that it is a choice that can only be changed through decisive action.

In conclusion, the UN Security Council meeting saw impassioned pleas and decisive calls for action to end the cruel use of hunger as a weapon of war.

The international community is united in the fight against food insecurity and famine, vowing to take concrete steps to address this pressing issue and protect the world's most vulnerable populations.

Only through collective efforts and unwavering determination can we bring about meaningful change and create a more just and secure world for all.

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