French President Emmanuel Macron said that Russian leader Vladimir Putin made a “huge mistake” with his decision to “weaponize” food by pulling out of the critical Black Sea grain deal.
Speaking to reporters at the Council of the European Union in Brussels on Tuesday, Macron said Russia assumed “a huge responsibility” towards numerous countries by participating in the UN-brokered grain deal.
“Middle Eastern, African, even Asian countries are very much dependent on these agreements, which will be impacted by the unilateral decision of Russia,” Macron said.
“For those who were still doubting about the sincerity of President Putin, and his commitment to common good, I mean, the answer is very clear he decided to weaponize food,” the French leader said, going on to call it a “huge mistake.”
Macron stressed that France’s “responsibility” is to “facilitate” the export of grains, cereals, and fertilizers, as part of the farm initiative it launched last year to support countries grappling with food security issues.
France initially responded to the news of Russia’s decision to exit the grain deal, accusing Putin of “blackmailing global food security.”
In a statement Monday, the French foreign ministry called Russia “solely responsible” for blocking shipping in the Black Sea.
More about the deal's impact on global food security: The deal proved vital for stabilizing global food prices and bringing relief to the developing countries which rely on Ukrainian exports. The impact of the war on global food markets was immediate and extremely painful, especially because Ukraine is a major supplier of grain to the World Food Programme (WFP).
According to the European Commission, Ukraine accounts for 10% of the world wheat market, 15% of the corn market, and 13% of the barley market. It is also a key global player in the market of sunflower oil. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an UN body, warned at the time that as many as 47 million people could be pushed into “acute food insecurity” because of the war.
CNN's Rob Picheta, Mick Krever and Anna Chernov contributed reporting to this post.