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Pope Francis Warns Against Using Grain as Weapon in Ukraine Conflict

© AP Photo / Alessandra TarantinoPope Francis prays during an Easter vigil ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, April 16, 2022.
Pope Francis prays during an Easter vigil ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, April 16, 2022.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.06.2022
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Pope Francis has expressed deep concern over the blocking of grain exports from Ukraine and urged against using this staple food commodity as a weapon in the conflict.
"The blocking of grain exports from Ukraine endangers the lives of millions of people. I make a heartfelt appeal that every effort be made to guarantee the universal human right to food. Please do not use wheat, a staple food, as a weapon of war," Pope tweeted, while also repeating his call in Russian and Ukrainian.
Since the beginning of Russia's military operation in Ukraine, numerous countries and international organisations have been calling for unblocking Ukraine's sea ports and releasing the grain stuck in warehouses, seeking to curtail rising food prices and deliver crops to the regions facing acute food insecurity as soon as possible.
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Russia has denied blocking sea ports and emphasised that Ukraine had deployed mines in the Black Sea. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed on Wednesday that the West was silent about the fact that Russian ships carrying grain had been sanctioned.
"There is a problem with the export of Russian grain. Although the West very loudly reminds that grain was not subject to sanctions, for some reason they bashfully keep silence about the fact that ships importing Russian grain were sanctioned. They are not accepted in European ports, they are not insured, and, in principle, all logistics, financial chains that are associated with the supply of grain to global markets, were under the sanctions of our Western colleagues," he said at a press conference following his visit to Saudi Arabia.
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Lavrov stressed that otherwise Russia had no problems with ensuring a stable supply of grain markets.
"As far as Russia is concerned, there are no problems with ensuring a stable supply of grain to world markets. The problem lies primarily in the lack of free exit from Ukrainian ports through minefields that were planted by Ukrainian military personnel," he added.
Russia's top diplomat revealed that Turkey would try to assist in demining seaports in Ukraine. Lavrov's Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said on Tuesday that Ukrainian sea mines prevented the passage of ships with grain.
“One of the problems for the safe withdrawal of ships with grain is sea mines, set by Ukraine in the Odessa region. Another reason is the possibility of delivering Russian products to the markets. In the sixth package of sanctions, there is the issue of insurance. Russia cannot insure ships that will transport goods. Ships cannot receive service in other ports. Russia wants these restrictions lifted. We need a corridor and clearance of mines from this corridor. The Ukrainian side says that it can clear it in 15 days. But Ukraine does not want the passage of Russian warships through the port of Odessa. And Russia does not want this corridor to be used to supply Ukraine with weapons,” Cavusoglu told Anadolu reporters.
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