Ukraine minister urges ASEAN to stop Russian ‘hunger games’

PHNOM PENH, Nov 12 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s foreign minister on Saturday urged Southeast Asian countries to take all possible measures to prevent Russia from playing “hunger games” over a Ukrainian Black Sea grain deal that could expire next week.

The deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey on July 22, allowing food and fertilizer exports from several Ukrainian Black Sea ports, could end on November 19 if Russia or Ukraine object to its extension.

Speaking at a press conference in Cambodia on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia’s remaining part of the deal is inadequate and steps should be taken to ensure its inspectors aren’t intentionally delaying supplies and sending global prices higher.

“Just keeping Russia on board is not enough. It is also important to ensure that Russian inspectors participating in this initiative act in good faith and inspect ships without artificial delays,” he said, adding countries in Africa and Asia were suffering.

“I call on all ASEAN members to take all possible methods to prevent Russia from playing hunger games with the world.”

The United Nations says more than 10 million tons of grain and other foodstuffs have been exported from Ukraine under the deal. It has warned that Russia’s war is worsening a global food crisis and pushing tens of millions more to starvation.

Ukraine joins for the first time the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and a parallel East Asian Summit. Heads of state and government from the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia are among the participants, as is Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Kuleba said Lavrov did not ask to meet with him during the summit, as is customary in international diplomacy.

“If he does that, we will carefully consider his request,” he said, adding that Russia must approach all negotiations in good faith.

“There is not a single indication that Russia is serious about negotiations,” he said.

“Sit down at a table for a nice picture, we were there, we made it, we tried.”

Kuleba said he has discussed how to support Ukraine at meetings with Southeast Asian leaders, conveying that it is against their interests to express neutrality and not condemn Russia.

“The worst thing a country can do is nothing,” he said.

reporting by Reuters staff; Writing by Martin Petty Editing by Ed Davies

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