Attack on UkraineSpeeches

James Cleverly – 2023 Statement on Russia’s Withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative

The statement made by James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, on 17 July 2023.

The United Kingdom condemns in the strongest terms Russia’s decision to withdraw from the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine has obstructed the free flow of grain and other foodstuffs through the Black Sea, causing worldwide suffering. We urge Russia to re-join the initiative, which was developed by the UN in 2022, and allow the unimpeded export of grain.

Since its inception, the initiative has played a significant role in lowering and stabilising global food prices, delivering over 32 million tonnes of food products to world markets. Russia has obstructed the proper operation of the deal for several months. In doing so, Russia is serving its own interests and disregarding the needs of all those around the world, including in the poorest countries, who are paying higher food prices as a result. The UN estimates that without the grain provided by the BSGI, the number of undernourished people worldwide could increase by millions.

While exports of grain from Ukraine are restricted, Russian exports of food are at higher levels than before the invasion. We have always been clear that the target of our sanctions is Russia’s war machine and not the food and fertiliser sectors. Contrary to Russian claims, the UN and other partners have taken significant steps to ensure that Russian food is able to access world markets. The best way for Russia to address concerns around global food security would be for it to withdraw its forces from Ukraine and end the war.