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The United States has accused Russia of holding the world’s food supply hostage amid growing fears of famine in developing countries, as a former Russian president has warned that the Kremlin will not release vital grain shipments without the end of Western sanctions.

Speaking at a UN Security Council meeting on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanded that Russia lift its blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports and allow the flow of food and fertilizer in the world.

“The Russian government seems to think that using food as a weapon will help accomplish what its invasion did not – break the spirit of the Ukrainian people,” he told the meeting convened by the government. Biden administration.

“The food supply of millions of Ukrainians and millions of others around the world has literally been taken hostage by the Russian military,” he added.

Blinken called on Russia to “stop threatening to suspend food and fertilizer exports from countries that criticize your war of aggression.”

Russia and Ukraine produce 30% of the world’s wheat supply and 69% of the world’s sunflower oil.

Earlier on Thursday, Dmitry Medvedev, a former president of Russia who is now a top security official, warned that Russia would not continue to supply food unless the West eased its sanctions against the Kremlin. .

After calls from the Western government and the United Nations for Moscow to allow the flow of food to avert possible starvation in some countries, Medvedev said on Thursday that Russia was ready to do so but expected “help trading partners, including on international platforms” to return.

“Otherwise there is no logic: on the one hand senseless sanctions are imposed on us, on the other hand they demand food,” Medvedev said on the Telegram messaging app. “Things don’t work that way, we’re not idiots.”

“Countries that import our wheat and other food products will have a hard time not sourcing from Russia. And on European and other fields, without our fertilizers, only juicy weeds will grow,” added Medvedev, who served as president between 2008 and 2012 but is now deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council.

“We have every chance to ensure that other countries have food, and food crises don’t happen. Do not interfere with our work.

Ertharin Cousin, chief executive and founder of Food Systems for the Future, and co-author of a report on the issue with Boston Consulting Group, said the crisis could have ramifications across the world. “While this crisis will have a significant impact on all of us around the world, low-income economies risk being devastated and causing unrest,” she said. “We are not just talking about the poorest of the poor, who are already suffering from hunger. We are also talking about people who could recently afford a loaf of bread for their family and now will not be able to do so.

The demand for the lifting of sanctions against the Russian economy could intensify Western efforts to provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs to challenge the Russian naval blockade. Ukraine has already sunk Russia’s flagship battlecruiser Moskva, but its military would need more sophisticated missiles to force Russia’s Black Sea Fleet back.

According to a Reuters report, the White House is working on such a plan. Three U.S. officials and two congressional sources said two types of powerful anti-ship missiles were being actively considered for direct shipment to Ukraine or via transfer from a European ally that has the missiles, Reuters reported on Thursday.

The plans are tempered by fears that supplying Ukraine with the latest anti-ship weapons could escalate the conflict. Current and former U.S. officials and congressional sources have also cited barriers to sending more powerful, longer-range weapons to Ukraine, which include lengthy training requirements, difficulty maintaining equipment, or concerns that weapons could be captured by Russian forces.

Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine and an unprecedented barrage of international sanctions against Russia have disrupted the supply of fertilizers, wheat and other basic commodities to both countries, driving up food and fuel prices, particularly in developing countries.

Serhii Dvornyk, a member of Ukraine’s mission to the UN, backed Blinken’s claim and called on Russia to stop “stealing” Ukrainian grain and unblock ports, noting that 400 million people around the world depended on Ukrainian grain.

The country’s grain exports rose from 5 million tonnes a month before the Russian invasion in February to 200,000 tonnes in March and about 1.1 million tonnes in April, he added.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, countered by saying that his country was blamed for all the misfortunes in the world.

He said the world had long suffered from a food crisis caused by an inflationary spiral resulting from rising insurance costs, logistical problems and speculation in Western markets.

He argued that Ukrainian ports were blocked by Ukraine itself, which he said had placed mines along the Black Sea coast.

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