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HomePoliticsUkraine minister urges ASEAN to stop Russian 'hunger games'

Ukraine minister urges ASEAN to stop Russian ‘hunger games’

A cargo ship carrying Ukrainian grain, and another originating from Ukraine, sail at the entrance of Bosphorus, in the Black Sea off the coast off Kumkoy, north of Istanbul, on November 2, 2022.

Ozan Kose | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine’s foreign minister on Saturday urged Southeast Asian countries to take all measures possible to stop Russia from playing “hunger games” over a Ukrainian Black Sea grain deal, which could expire next week.

The deal allowing the export of food and fertilizers from several of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports – brokered by the United Nations and Turkey on July 22 – could end on Nov. 19 if Russia or Ukraine object to its extension.

Speaking at a news conference in Cambodia on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit, Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia remaining part of the deal was insufficient and measures should be taken ensure its inspectors were not intentionally delaying shipments and forcing global prices to rise.

“It’s not enough just to keep Russia on board. It’s also important to make sure that Russian inspectors who participate in this initiative, that they act in good faith and that they inspect ships without any artificial delays,” he said, adding countries in Africa and Asia were suffering.

“I call on all ASEAN members to take every method possible to stop Russia from playing hunger games with the world.”

The United Nations says more than 10 million tonnes of grain and other food has been exported from Ukraine under the deal. It has warned that Russia’s war is worsening a global food crisis and pushing tens of millions more people into hunger.

Ukraine is joining the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and a parallel East Asian Summit for the first time. Leaders of the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia are among those also attending, as is Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Kuleba said Lavrov had not requested a meeting with him during the summit, as would be the norm in international diplomacy.

“If he does we will thoroughly consider his request,” he said, adding Russia must approach all negotiations in good faith.

“There is not a single indicator that Russia is sincerely seeking negotiations,” he said.

“Sitting down at a table for a nice picture, we’ve been there, we’ve done it, we’ve tried.”

Kuleba said he discussed during meetings with Southeast Asian leaders ways in which they can support Ukraine and conveyed that expressing neutrality and not condemning Russia was against their interests.

“The worst thing that a country can do is nothing,” he said.

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