G7 warn of Ukraine grain crisis, ask China not to aid Russia

By FRANK JORDANS – Associated Press

WEISSENHAUS, Germany (AP) – The group of seven leading economies warned on Saturday that war in Ukraine is fueling a global food and energy crisis that threatens poor countries, and urgent action is needed to unblock grain reserves that Russia is preventing from leaving Ukraine.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who hosted a meeting with top G-7 diplomats, said the war had become a “global crisis”.

“Up to 50 million people, especially in the countries of Africa and the Middle East, will die in the coming months,” she warned, if no way was found to release Ukrainian grain, which accounts for a significant share of global supply.

In statements released at the end of the three-day meeting on Germany’s Baltic coast, the G-7 promised to provide additional humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable.

“Russia’s war of aggression has generated one of the most serious food and energy crises in recent history, now threatening the most vulnerable in the world,” the group said.

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“We are determined to accelerate a coordinated multilateral response in order to preserve the global food supply and stand by 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 so that Ukrainian grain could be transported to those in need.

“We need to make sure these grains are sent to the world,” she told reporters. “If not, millions of people will face starvation.”

The G-7 countries also called on China not to help Russia, among other things by undermining international sanctions or justifying Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

Beijing should support Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence and not “assist Russia in its war of aggression,” they said.

The G-7, which includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, also called on China “to refrain from engaging in information manipulation, misinformation and other means of legitimizing Russia’s offensive against Ukraine.”

The meeting in Weissenhaus, northeast of Hamburg, was seen as an opportunity for officials to discuss the war’s broader consequences for geopolitics, energy and food security, and ongoing international efforts to tackle climate change and the pandemic.

In a series of concluding statements, the G-7 countries also addressed a wide range of global problems from the situation in Afghanistan to tensions in the Middle East.

On Friday, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba appealed to friendly countries to provide more military support to Kyiv and increase pressure on Russia, including by seizing its assets abroad to pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine.

Kuleba said his country is still willing to talk to Russia about unblocking grain stocks got stuck in Ukraine’s silos and although to reach a political agreement to end the war itself, but had so far received “no positive feedback” from Moscow.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview published on Saturday that he had not noticed any change in Putin’s attitude recently.

Scholz, who spoke at length on the phone with the Russian leader on Friday, told the German news portal t-online that Putin had failed to achieve the military goals he set at the beginning of the war while losing more Russian soldiers than the Soviet Union did. during its decades-long campaign in Afghanistan.

“Putin should slowly begin to understand that the only way out of this situation is through an agreement with Ukraine,” Scholz said.

One idea discussed at the G-7 meeting was whether Russian state assets frozen abroad can be used to pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine.

“Russia is responsible for the enormous damage caused by this war,” Baerbock said. “And that is why it is a matter of justice that Russia will have to pay for this damage.”

But she added that, unlike in Canada – where legislation allows seized funds to be reused – the legal basis for doing so in Germany is uncertain.

“But that’s exactly what such meetings are for, to have an exchange on how to resolve these legal issues,” Baerbock said.

Many of the foreign ministers were to attend an informal meeting of NATO diplomats in Berlin on Saturday and Sunday.

That meeting will consider measures by Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance amid concerns over the threat from Russia, as well as ways in which NATO can support Ukraine without being drawn into the conflict.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was unable to attend the G-7 summit after recovering from a covid-19 infection, was expected at the NATO summit.

Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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