Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, in an interview with France 24, condemns the recent attacks by Russia on Ukrainian ports, after Moscow’s withdrawal from the grain agreement in the Black Sea.
“Russia’s goal is to worsen the global food crisis, export its own grain unhindered and make as much money as possible,” he said, adding that this strategy helps finance the Kremlin’s war effort.
Dmytro Kuleba believes that the Russian attacks on the port of Reni, on the border with NATO member Romania, are a way for Vladimir Putin to “test NATO’s response”. And for him, “NATO must react firmly and decisively”. He claims that Russian ships “wherever they are in the Black Sea are becoming legitimate targets”, in response to the Russian warning that civilian ships heading for Ukrainian ports are targets.
Ukraine’s foreign minister promises that Ukraine will continue to try to revive the Black Sea grain agreement, which Russia has refused to extend. However, he added that if this was not possible, another sea route would have to be created for the export of Ukrainian grain as well as for shipments to Europe.
He considers the idea of Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria blocking agricultural exports from Ukraine beyond the previously agreed September 15 date “unacceptable”. These countries have been given the right by the EU to block the marketing of Ukrainian grain on their land in order to protect their agricultural sectors. “One of the reasons why Russia is destroying our grain infrastructure is to create more tension between Ukraine and its neighbors. We should not play its game,” said Dmytro Kuleba, expressing hope that the problem can be resolved.
He says he is aware of Russia’s efforts to export its grain via Qatar and Turkey. For him, it would be “shameful” for a country to participate in such an agreement. He added that Ukraine was in contact with all parties.
Strip Russia of its “power of blackmail”
The head of Ukrainian diplomacy says the Russian president is organizing a Russia-Africa summit this week to “whitewash his reputation” and not in the interests of the African continent. Regarding the presence in Africa of the paramilitary group Wagner, he explained that Ukraine has a lot of information that can help African countries strengthen their security.
He adds that while Ukraine is seeking to acquire US-made long-range ATACMS missiles, it is already receiving some from Britain and France. “So it’s not an item we don’t have. We need more, but in principle we have them.” Demining equipment is a “very current need”. And as for the F-16 fighter jets, Dmytro Kuleba considers “the deal as concluded”
He points out that if Ukraine had the F-16, it would not depend on Russian blackmail to export grain to world markets. “As soon as possible, we can get a corridor to push down world prices and strip Russia of its blackmail power.”