NATIONAL NEWS

US challenges world to tell Russia to stop using Ukrainian grain as `blackmail’

Aug 3, 2023, 10:13 AM

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds seat as president of the United Nations Security Counc...

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds seat as president of the United Nations Security Council during meeting on famine and conflict-induced global food insecurity, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken challenged all countries Thursday to tell Russia to stop using the Black Sea and Ukraine’s grain as “blackmail” and stop treating the world’s hungry and vulnerable people as leverage in its “unconscionable war.”

America’s top diplomat lashed out at Russia at a U.N. Security Council meeting for ignoring the world’s appeals and pulling out of the year-old deal that allowed Ukraine to ship more than 32 tons of grain from Black Sea ports to needy countries.

“And what has Russia’s response been to the world’s distress and outrage? Bombing Ukrainian granaries, mining port entrances, threatening to attack any vessel in the Black Sea,” he said.

Blinken was chairing the signature event of the United States’ council presidency this month on conflict as a key driver of hunger and famine.

He announced that the United States, which has provided more than $17.5 billion since January 2021 to address famine and food insecurity, will give $362 million more to tackle the drivers of hunger in Haiti and 11 African countries.

He pointed to the U.N. World Food Program, which said last week it needs $20 billion to deliver aid to everyone in need but was aiming for between $10 billion to $14 billion, the amount it has received in the past few years. So far this year, however, WFP said it had received only around $5 billion and therefore 38 of 86 countries where it operates have already seen cuts or are planning cuts in food assistance soon.

Blinken also implicitly criticized China, which is the world’s second-largest economic power behind the United States, saying: “The world’s largest economies should be the world’s largest donors, for member states to consider themselves global leaders. This is your chance to prove it.”

He added that “All of us. All of us can dig deeper.”

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US challenges world to tell Russia to stop using Ukrainian grain as `blackmail’