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Zelensky, Kuleba on grain deal collapse: Russian actions are 'blackmail'

by Elsa Court July 18, 2023 12:06 AM 2 min read
President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks at a press conference during NATO Summit at LITEXPO Lithuanian Exhibition and Congress Center in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 12, 2023. (Photo: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Speaking on U.S. television on July 17, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that "Russia is using hunger as an instrument to blackmail the world." President Volodymyr Zelensky similarly referred to Russia's decision to refuse to sign the extension of the Black Sea Grain Deal as "blackmail" in his evening address.

Asked by the host of the U.S. television show CBS Mornings what his message to Russia was, Kuleba replied that Russia needs to "stop playing hunger games with people around the world."

The grain initiative, brokered by Turkey and the U.N. in July 2022, has played a crucial role in stabilizing food prices worldwide amid a surge caused, in part, by Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine.

Kuleba said that the immediate impact of Russia's refusal to extend the Black Sea Grain Deal on July 17 will be seen in a rise in food prices.

Following Moscow's announcement that it was terminating the deal, Bloomberg reported that the price of wheat rose by 3% to $6.8 per bushel.

Echoing remarks earlier made by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Kuleba said that it is "impossible to fully compensate the blockade of Ukrainian ports with inland routes," and therefore, "Russia is using hunger as an instrument" against the most vulnerable.

In his evening address, Zelensky said that "Ukrainian food is basic security for almost 400 million people," and that the deal provided stability to 45 countries across the world.

Sixty percent of the volumes exported under the initiative went to the countries of Africa and Asia.

Zelensky proposed to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Ukraine, the UN, and Turkey can ensure the operation of the shipping corridor in a trilateral format.

Ukraine war latest: Grain deal collapses after Russia pulls from agreement
Key Developments on July 17: * Grain deal collapses after Russia pulls from agreement * Crimean Bridge damaged after reported explosions * Military: Russian forces on the offensive in Lyman-Kupiansk direction * Foreign Ministry marks 9-year anniversary of Russian downing of MH17 * More Wagner…
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