Marcus Brandt / AP
WEISENHOUSE, Germany. The Group of Seven economies warned on Saturday that the war in Ukraine was provoking a global food and energy crisis that threatens poor countries, and urgent measures are needed to unblock grain reserves that prevent Russia from leaving Ukraine.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who hosted a meeting of senior G-7 diplomats, said the war had turned into a “global crisis”.
He said up to 50 million people, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, would go hungry in the coming months if there were no way to release Ukrainian grain, which accounts for the bulk of world supplies.
In a statement issued at the end of a three-day meeting on the shores of the German Baltic Sea, the G-7 promised to provide further humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable.
“Russia’s aggressive war has led to one of the most severe food and energy crises in modern history, which now threatens the world’s most vulnerable,” the group said.
“We are determined to accelerate a coordinated multilateral response while maintaining global food security, and to stand by our most vulnerable partners in this regard,” he added.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie has said that her country, another major exporter of agriculture, is ready to send ships to European ports to bring Ukrainian grain to the needy.
“We have to make sure that these grains are sent to the world,” he told reporters. “If not, millions of people will starve.”
Russia has denied that it was responsible for the worsening global hunger and rising food prices.
“Prices are rising because of US sanctions under pressure from the United States,” said Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry. “This misunderstanding is either a sign of stupidity or a deliberate misleading of the society.”
The G-7 countries also called on China not to help Russia, including by violating international sanctions or justifying Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.
“Beijing should support Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence, not” help Russia in the war of aggression, “they said.
The G-7 called on China to “refrain from information manipulation, misinformation and other means of legitimizing Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine.”
The group, which includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, has also reaffirmed 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, discussed with officials the broader implications of the war on geopolitics, energy, food security, climate change, and ongoing international efforts to combat the epidemic.
In the final statements, the G-7 countries also addressed a wide range of global issues, from the situation in Afghanistan to the tension in the Middle East.
On Friday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba called on friendly countries to provide more military assistance to China and increase pressure on Russia, including by seizing its assets abroad to pay for Ukraine’s reconstruction.
Kuleba said his country was ready to talk to Russia about reaching a political agreement to unblock grain supplies stuck in Ukrainian silos to end the war, but has so far received “no positive response” from Moscow.
In an interview published on Saturday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that he had not noticed any change in Putin’s position recently.
Scholz, who spoke at length with the Russian leader by telephone on Friday, told the German t-online news portal that Putin had failed to achieve the military goals he had set at the beginning of the war, while losing more Russian troops than the Soviet Union. his ten-year campaign in Afghanistan.
“Putin must gradually begin to understand that the only way out of this situation is an agreement with Ukraine,” Scholz was quoted as saying.
One of the ideas discussed at the G-7 meeting was whether frozen Russian state assets abroad could be used to pay for Ukraine’s reconstruction.
“Russia is responsible for the enormous damage caused by this war,” Berbock said. “And so it is a matter of justice that Russia must pay for this damage.”
But he added that, unlike in Canada, where legislation allows for the redistribution of confiscated funds, the legal basis for doing so in Germany is unclear.
“But that is why such meetings are meant to be exchanged on how to resolve these legal issues,” Baerbock said.
Many of the foreign ministers immediately left for an informal meeting of NATO diplomats in Berlin on Saturday.
The meeting will focus on Finland’s and Sweden’s moves to join the military alliance amid concerns over the Russian threat, as well as ways in which NATO can assist Ukraine without interfering in the conflict.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who was unable to attend the G-7 meeting after recovering from COVID-19, was expected to attend a NATO summit.
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