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Blinken warns Russia to stop using 'food as weapon of war' in Ukraine

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Officials from the U.S. and other countries plan to push Russia to stop using food as a “weapon,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday

As the United Nations Security Council convenes in New York on Thursday, officials from the U.S. and other countries plan to push Russia to stop using food as a “weapon,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

“I think Russia is hearing a demand signal from countries around the world that they they need to stop using food as a weapon of war in Ukraine,” Blinken told George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America."

Russia announced last month that it would end its participation in a deal that had allowed ships carrying millions of tons of Ukrainian grain to exit through the Black Sea.

Ukraine has long been one of the world's biggest exporters of grain, wheat and corn. More than half of the grain that has left Ukraine since the Russian invasion began has gone to developing countries, including many in Africa, Blinken said.

Biden administration officials had previously said that the exit would “will exacerbate food scarcity and harm millions of vulnerable people around the world.”

PHOTO: Workers open the hatches of a wheat transporting train car in Constanta harbor, Romania on July 31, 2023. Since the beginning of the war in neighbouring Ukraine, Constanta, the largest port for cereals in Europe.
Workers open the hatches of a wheat transporting train car in Constanta harbor, Romania on July 31, 2023. Since the beginning of the war in neighbouring Ukraine, Constanta, the largest port for cereals in Europe, has been on a race to adapt to the growing influx of Ukrainian grain.
Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images

“Russia’s decision to resume its effective blockade of Ukrainian ports and prevent this grain from getting to markets will harm people all over the world,” John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council said last month. “Russia will be fully and solely responsible for the consequences of this Military act of aggression.”

Blinken said on Thursday that U.S. officials "hope" that Russia will engage with international leaders on grain shipments out of Ukraine.

“We’ve got 91 countries to date signed up not to use food as a weapon of war,” he said.

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