UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace on Wednesday called on Moscow to do the “right thing” and release grain stuck in Ukrainian ports due to Russia’s military campaign.
Moscow has said it would permit food corridors in Ukraine and avoid a global food crisis if international sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine were removed.
“Let’s not talk about sanctions, let’s talk about doing the right thing by nations around the world,” Wallace told journalists in Madrid when asked about Moscow’s position.
“I call on Russia to do the right thing in the spirit of humanity and let the grain of Ukraine out,” he said, adding Russia was “potentially starving many countries around the world of grain”.
Before the invasion in February, Ukraine was seen as the world’s breadbasket, exporting 4.5 million tonnes of agricultural produce per month through its ports — 12 percent of the planet’s wheat, 15 percent of its corn and half of its sunflower oil.
But with the ports of Odessa, Chornomorsk and others cut off from the world by Russian warships, the supply can only travel on congested land routes that are far less efficient.
“People around the world are relying on that grain to feed themselves,” Wallace said, citing Libya and Yemen as examples of nations especially reliant on Ukrainian grain.
“Stop stealing the grain, we see Russia stealing the grain for its own use,” he added.
Wallace was visiting Madrid ahead of the NATO summit in June.