G7 warns of cereal crisis in Ukraine and asks China not to help Russia

WEISSENHAUS, Germany (AP) — The Group of Seven major economies warned Saturday that the war in Ukraine it 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 of top G-7 diplomats, said the war had become a “global crisis”.

He said that up to 50 million people, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, will face hunger in the coming months unless ways are found to release Ukrainian grain, which accounts for a sizeable part of the world’s supply.

In remarks issued at the end of the three-day meeting on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast, the G-7 pledged to provide more humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable.

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

“We are determined to accelerate a coordinated multilateral response to preserve global food security and support our most vulnerable partners in this regard,” he added.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said her country, another major agricultural exporter, is ready to send ships to European ports so Ukrainian grain can reach those in need.

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

Russia dismissed the claim that it was responsible for worsening world hunger and rising food prices.

“Prices are rising due to sanctions imposed by the West under pressure from the United States,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. “Not understanding this is a sign of stupidity or intentionally misleading the public.”

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

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

The G-7 urged China to “desist from engaging in information manipulation, disinformation and other means to legitimize Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”

The grouping, which includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, also reiterated its position that the territories occupied by Russian forces should be returned to Ukraine.

“We will never recognize the borders that Russia has tried to change through military aggression,” they said.

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

In a series of closing statements, the G7 nations also addressed a wide range of global issues, from the situation in Afghanistan to tensions in the Middle East.

On Friday, 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 remains willing to talk with Russia about unlocking grain supplies trapped in Ukraine’s silos. and also about reaching a political agreement to end the war itself, but had so far received “no positive response” from Moscow.

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

Scholz, who spoke at length with the Russian leader by phone on Friday, told the German news portal t-online that Putin failed to achieve the military goals he set for himself at the start of the war and lost more Russian soldiers than the Soviet Union during his campaign. a decade 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 bears responsibility for the massive damage resulting from this war,” Baerbock said. “And so it is a matter of justice that Russia has to pay for this damage.”

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

“But that’s precisely what those meetings are for, to have an exchange about how to resolve these legal issues,” Baerbock said.

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

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

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

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

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