Activist countries

EDITORIAL | Condemn Russia for weaponizing starvation in other countries as a negotiating tool

Russia has announced that it is indefinitely suspending the July agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey allowing Ukraine to export its grain via the Black Sea. Russia’s withdrawal from the deal was apparently in retaliation for Ukrainian attacks on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

The most important reason for the current global food crisis is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. If the Russian military does not guarantee the safe passage of ships through the Black Sea, it is difficult for Ukraine, which is a major agricultural nation, to transport its grain to world markets.

Russia made several promises in the July deal, including safe passage for grain shipments. The pact is designed to help countries facing famine in the Middle East and Africa that depend on Ukrainian grain.

Moscow’s recent unilateral announcement that it was suspending the deal is tantamount to weaponizing starvation by using food as a bargaining tool. This behavior is completely unacceptable.

The Turkish-flagged Polarnet cargo ship, carrying Ukrainian grain, reaches its final destination, marking the completion of the first shipment since the resumption of exports from Ukraine, at Safiport Derince in the Gulf of Izmit in Kocaeli province, in Turkey, August 8, 2022. (©REUTERS)

Russia’s persistent unilateral actions

There is no doubt that this decision is intended to influence the United States and Europe. But the greatest impact will be on poor countries that have no interest in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Moreover, Russia is trying to use military aid as a tool to penetrate several African countries. Moscow’s aim is to pressure more nations to join the small group that supports it at the United Nations and elsewhere.

The reality is that Russia doesn’t care about things like these countries’ food shortage problem.

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The United Nations and Turkey brokered the July deal. After many twists and turns and a strong push from international public opinion, the agreement was finally signed.

Russia should reconsider its decision to abandon the implementation of the agreement. At the same time, the rest of the world should recognize how easily Russia can unilaterally break a treaty.

The Lebanese-flagged bulk carrier Brave Commander is seen in the seaport of Pivdennyi while loading wheat for Ethiopia after the restart of grain export, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in the town of Yuzhne, Odessa region, Ukraine, August 14, 2022. (© REUTERS/Valentin Ogirenko)

Unacceptable excuses

For starters, Moscow hinted that it was ending its participation in the deal. The Kremlin argues that the reason is due to the attacks on the Russian naval base in Sevastopol. However, no matter who attacked in the southern part of the Crimean peninsula, this cannot justify interference in food shipments to non-parties.

In another case, Russia and Western countries blame each other for the destruction of an underwater gas pipeline. The pipeline, which suffered major leaks, was used to supply Russian natural gas to Europe.

However, Russia’s words and deeds are full of lies and cannot be trusted. There are also fears that Moscow could attack critical undersea cables or other important assets and then try to shift responsibility to the West. We must remain on our guard.

Based on various fictions, such as that Crimea is an inalienable part of its national territory, Russia continues its reckless invasion. As long as this continues, all of Moscow’s posturing should be considered nothing more than a farce.

The food crisis has become extremely serious. The international community must strongly condemn Russia’s inhumane threats. Meanwhile, efforts orchestrated by Ukraine, the United Nations and Turkey to resume grain exports deserve strong support.


(Read the editorial in Japanese on this link.)

Author: editorial board, The Sankei Shimbun

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