Kremlin envoy storms out of UN meeting over food crisis jab

A top Russian diplomat stormed out of a UN Security Council meeting after the European Council president accused the Kremlin of triggering a global food crisis by blockading Ukraine’s grain exports.

Moscow’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia abruptly got up from the chamber Monday as President Charles Michel told the 15-member body that Russia’s war in Ukraine is driving up food prices, pushing populations into poverty.

Speaking directly to Nebenzia, Michel said, “Let’s be honest, the Kremlin is using food supplies as a stealth missile against developing countries.”

“And Russia is responsible for this food crisis,” he argued. “Russia alone, despite the Kremlin’s campaign of lies and disinformation.”

Michel told the diplomats that he witnessed millions of tons of grain stuck in containers and ships at the Ukrainian port of Odessa during his tour of the region a few weeks ago.

He claimed the issues stemmed from Russian warships in the Black Sea and Moscow’s attacks on transport infrastructure and grain storage facilities.

A top Russian diplomat stormed out of a UN Security Council meeting after the European Council president accused the Kremlin of triggering a global food crisis by blockading Ukraine’s grain exports.
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Charles Michel speaking at table with name plate that reads President of the European Council.
Michel said: “You may leave the room, maybe it’s easier not to listen to the truth.”
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Michel also accused Russian forces of stealing grain from occupied areas “while shifting the blame [to] others,” slamming the Kremlin’s tactic as “cowardly” and “propaganda, pure and simple.”

Speaking to Nebenzia as he walked out, Michel said: “You may leave the room, maybe it’s easier not to listen to the truth.”

Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyansky later tweeted on Telegram’s Russian channel that Michel’s comments were “so rude” that the Russian ambassador left the Security Council chamber.

Michel had also accused Russian troops of war crimes and crimes against humanity, specifically citing reports of sexual violence — the focus of Monday’s Security Council meeting — and describing it as “a tactic of torture, terror and repression.”

During his own statement earlier in the meeting, Nebenzia had “categorically refuted” any accusations of sexual violence by Russian soldiers, condemning what he said was a “lie.”

Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine has fueled an international food crisis with prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizer soaring. Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, while Russia is also a fertilizer exporter and Ukraine is an exporter of corn and sunflower oil.

Man sitting at desk with
Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyansky later tweeted on Telegram’s Russian channel that Michel’s comments were “so rude” that the Russian ambassador left the Security Council chamber.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is trying to broker what he calls a “package deal” to resume Ukrainian food exports and Russian food and fertilizer exports. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to visit Turkey Wednesday to discuss unlocking grain exports from Ukraine.

Guterres warned last month that global hunger levels “are at a new high,” with the number of people facing severe food insecurity doubling in just two years from 135 million before the COVID-19 pandemic to 276 million today.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at a virtual roundtable discussion with private-sector groups on food security issues arising from the conflict, accused Russian forces of planting explosives in captured farmland and hoarding Ukraine’s food exports.

Blinken said Russian President Vladimir Putin is doing this and “aggressively using his distortion machine to deflect or responsibility because he hopes it will get the world to give in to him and then [end] the sanctions. In other words, quite simply put: It’s blackmail.”

With Post wires