US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal “unconscionable" and said the agreement should be "restored as quickly as possible."
“I hope that every country is watching this very closely. They will see that Russia is responsible for denying food to people who desperately need it around the world and to contribute to rising prices at a time when many countries continue to experience very difficult inflation,” he said Monday at the State Department.
The top US diplomat said Monday that the deal should not have been necessary in the first place, and only became so after Russia launched its war in Ukraine.
Blinken said the Ukrainians, the US and others will look to see if there are “any other options” to transit grain safely through the Black Sea onto the market, such as by rail and by road, but said there are challenges in trying to find alternatives.
“The challenge is this: if Russia is ending this initiative and sending a message that grain cannot and other food products cannot leave Ukraine unimpeded, even if there are other options, I think it will likely have a profound chilling effect on the ability to pursue them, as other countries, companies, shippers, etc., will be very concerned about what happens to their ships and to their personnel if Russia is opposing any export of food products from Ukraine,” Blinken said.
“The whole point of this was to have a voluntary agreement that involved all of the relevant parties that was endorsed by the United Nations to make sure there was safety, security, predictability, in moving food out of Ukraine into places that were desperately in need of it,” he said.