EXCLUSIVE: Boris Johnson signals UK willingness to remove mines, help Ukraine export grain

Kigali (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated on Thursday that Britain was prepared to assist clear mines off Ukraine’s southern coast and was contemplating offering insurance coverage for ships to move hundreds of thousands of tons of grain caught within the nation.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 and the blockade of its ports on the Black Sea have prevented the nation, historically one of many world’s largest meals producers, from exporting a lot of the greater than 20 million tons of grain saved in its silos.

This has helped push meals costs to report ranges and go away tens of hundreds of thousands of individuals struggling to eat, a disaster that Western officers say might final two years.

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Turkey is attempting to dealer talks between the United Nations, Ukraine and Russia to create a potential secure sea lane within the Black Sea, however Moscow desires some Western sanctions to be lifted first to facilitate its grain and fertilizer exports.

“There’s work to be accomplished. We’re working with the Turks and different European buddies and allies to see what we will do,” Johnson advised Reuters in an interview throughout a go to to Rwanda for a Commonwealth summit.

The London insurance coverage market has put the complete area on the excessive threat listing which implies increased freight prices.

Johnson stated Britain was contemplating all choices when requested if the federal government might present sovereign ensures to safe transport.

“What the UK can supply, within the first place, is experience in relation to marine insurance coverage, a whole lot of expertise transferring items via them if we are saying disputed sea areas,” he stated.

Requested if Britain can be prepared to assist Ukraine clear mines from the world, Johnson stated: “Sure, I do not need to go into technical or navy particulars, however you may take that from what we have already accomplished supplying gear to the Ukrainians to assist themselves shield ourselves as a result of we’re speaking to them.” Actually on the technical degree to assist clear the mines from Odessa. ”

Any demining effort can be the most important for the reason that Iran-Iraq conflict within the Nineteen Eighties, and any demining challenge off Ukraine would take a number of months.

Individually, British Overseas Secretary Liz Truss stated on Thursday that pressing motion should be taken over the subsequent month earlier than the subsequent harvest to preserve provides.

meals disaster

Britain, the USA and the European Union, which provide arms to Ukraine, have accused Russia of fueling the meals disaster by blocking grain exports from Ukraine – which accounts for a couple of tenth of world wheat exports.

In an announcement late on Thursday, Britain pledged 372 million kilos ($456 million) to assist international locations onerous hit by rising world meals prices and fertilizer shortages, together with 130 million kilos for the World Meals Programme.

Britain stated its funding would supply humanitarian support to extend entry to meals within the worst-affected African international locations.

The EU overseas coverage chief stated earlier this week that Russia is committing a conflict crime by stopping the export of hundreds of thousands of tons of Ukrainian grain.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated this month that hundreds of thousands of individuals might starve because of the blockade of Ukraine’s ports on the Black Sea, which he stated has introduced the world “on the point of a horrible meals disaster.”

Russia denies accountability for the meals disaster, blaming it for Western sanctions imposed on Moscow which have led to a leap in world meals costs. It additionally says that the West is spreading lies in regards to the causes of the disaster. Learn extra

Whereas Johnson acknowledged that there have been many elements driving meals inflation charges excessive, he accused Putin of attempting to get the world to “demand a ransom” due to the embargo.

“It’s completely unreasonable,” he stated. “This supply might help individuals world wide, and it may assist a number of the world’s poorest international locations.”

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Extra reporting by Elizabeth Piper in London and Nashet Jogi in Bengaluru. Enhancing by Alison Williams

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