Food has become part of Russia's “arsenal of terror,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday.
In an address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, von der Leyen stressed the urgent need to restore Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, as a remedy to the looming global food crisis.
“This is a cold, callous and calculated siege by Putin on some of the most vulnerable countries and people in the world. And therefore now, Honorable Members, food has become now part of the Kremlin's arsenal of terror, and we cannot tolerate it,” Von der Leyen told EU lawmakers.
The EU’s sanctions against Russia “do not touch basic food commodities,” the EU Commission chief stressed.
“They do not affect the trading of grain or other foods between Russia and third countries. And the port embargo specifically has full exemption on agricultural goods,” she added, highlighting the need to counter Russian "disinformation" about the food crisis.
Her remarks come as Russian and Turkish foreign ministers held meetings in Ankara on Wednesday to discuss issues related to grain exports from Ukraine.
Von der Leyen thanked the United Nations for its “efforts” to help restore Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, reiterating that the “majority of Ukrainian grain can only be exported” through these routes.
There is an expectation for the EU to show the “same solidarity” it has “shown to Ukraine when it comes to addressing the food crisis in the world,” she added, committing the bloc to this task.