Johnson demands action on Ukrainian grain as Zelensky calls for more support

·3 min read

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky will urge leaders of some of the world’s richest countries to do more to support his nation’s fight against Russia.

Mr Zelensky will address Boris Johnson, Joe Biden and other G7 leaders by video link from Kyiv as his country continues to come under attack from Vladimir Putin’s missiles.

In his nightly address on Sunday, he urged the allies to be “partners, not observers” and give his country the ability to defend itself, warning that any delay would be an invitation to Russia to strike again.

Mr Johnson will use Monday’s session at the G7 summit in Germany to call for urgent action to help get vital grain supplies out of Ukraine’s blockaded ports to support the country’s economy and alleviate shortages around the world.

Time is running out to prevent stores of grain rotting in silos, with July’s harvest set to exacerbate the problem.

As Russian missile strikes continued to hit Ukrainian towns and cities, Mr Johnson warned the country is on a “knife edge”, with Russian troops grinding forward in the east.

The blockade of major Ukrainian ports such as Odesa, attacks on farms and warehouses and the wider impact of the Russian invasion have all added to the problems facing food from the country reaching the global market.

Ukraine previously supplied 10% of the world’s wheat, up to 17% of the world’s maize and half of the world’s sunflower oil.

Some 25 million tonnes of corn and wheat is currently at risk of rotting in Ukrainian silos.

Mr Johnson will call for an international solution to the crisis, including finding overland routes for grain supplies to beat the Russian blockade, with £10 million in materials and equipment to repair damaged rail infrastructure.

The UK has also been urging Turkey, which controls access to the Black Sea, to do more to get grain supplies out by ship.

Russia’s actions have driven up food prices globally, including in the UK, while 47 million people around the world in countries dependent on Ukrainian grain are at risk of humanitarian disaster.

The Prime Minister will tell G7 leaders on Monday: “Putin’s actions in Ukraine are creating terrible aftershocks across the world, driving up energy and food prices as millions of people are on the brink of famine.

G7 Summit
G7 leaders are meeting in the Bavarian Alps in southern Germany (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“Only Putin can end this needless and futile war.

“But global leaders need to come together and apply their combined economic and political heft to help Ukraine and make life easier for households across the world. Nothing should be off the table.”

Mr Johnson also wants G7 leaders to look at the use of grain for biofuel, claiming the use of it to power vehicles may be reducing availability and pushing up food costs.

The UK will also put £1.5 million in to developing a testing process to identify whether grain sold by Russia has been illegally smuggled from Ukraine.

The Prime Minister has played down the prospect of the Royal Navy being sent in to help merchant vessels beat the Russian blockade.

But he has said British expertise in “remote de-mining” and insurance of shipping in contested waters could help vessels get the grain out by sea.

Mr Zelensky will address both the G7 and Nato summits over the coming days.

Ahead of his speech to the G7 leaders gathered in the luxury Schloss Elmau hotel in the Bavarian Alps, Mr Zelensky said he would demand extra defence systems to combat the missile bombardment.

“We need a powerful air defence – modern, fully effective – which can ensure complete protection against these missiles,” he said.

“We talk about this every day with our partners. There are already some agreements. And partners need to move faster if they are really partners, not observers.

“Delays in the transfer of weapons to our state, any restrictions are actually an invitation for Russia to strike again and again.

“The occupiers – these terrorists – must be beaten with all our might so that they do not think they can put pressure and outplay someone.”

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