WEISSENHAUS, Germany (AP) — Top diplomats from wealthy Group of Seven countries gathered in northern Germany on Thursday for a three-day meeting focused on Russia’s war on Ukraine and the wider impact it is having around the world, particularly on food and energy prices.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, host of the meeting, said the conflict had already become a “global crisis” because shipments of staple crops are blocked in Ukraine, a major agricultural exporter.
“Twenty-five million tons (27.5 million US tons) of grain are currently stuck in Ukrainian ports, especially in Odessa,” Baerbock said. “Cereals that feed millions of people around the world and which African countries have a particularly urgent need and the Middle East.”
“That’s why we are discussing how the grain blockade by Russia can be unblocked, how we can get grain to the world,” she added.
Baerbock warned that the brewing global food emergency was further fueled by climate change – another topic ministers plan to discuss when they meet in Weissenhaus, a seaside resort on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast in the north. east of Hamburg.
Around 3,500 police have been deployed to the event site to provide security.
The foreign ministers of Ukraine and neighboring Moldova, which fears becoming the next target of Russian aggression, have been invited to attend the meeting as guests. Indonesia’s foreign minister, whose country chairs the Group of 20 major economies this year, is expected to join remotely for part of the meeting on Friday, when relations with China are on the agenda.
Speaking earlier on Thursday in Berlin, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba welcomed recent moves by the German government to step up military support for his country.
“We see positive, positive momentum,” Kuleba told reporters after a meeting with German lawmakers. “We have to make sure that this positive momentum is maintained.”
Kuleba said he saw it as a “signal of strength” that Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s centre-left Social Democratic Party had dropped its opposition to the supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine.
He also expressed hope that the European Union would soon approve Ukraine’s request to start the process of joining the bloc. French President Emmanuel Macron has hinted that it could be decades before Ukraine is ready become a full member of the EU.
Baerbock, who recently became Germany’s first senior official to visit Ukraine since the start of the war, offered his support for Ukraine’s EU bid. Asked about Ukraine’s demand for fighter jets, Baerbock was less encouraging, citing the risk of NATO being drawn into a conflict with Russia.
“When it comes to no-fly zones and aviation support, we have already taken a clear position,” she told reporters.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary called on Ukraine to receive more sophisticated military support, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin would face “a defeat in Ukraine that robs him of any advantage and ultimately limits any new aggression”.
“To help Ukraine, we need to go further and faster,” Foreign Minister Liz Truss told the meeting, according to remarks released by her office.
“The best long-term security for Ukraine will come from its ability to defend itself,” Truss said. “It means providing Ukraine with a clear path to NATO standard equipment.”
Also present at the meeting in Weissenhaus were the foreign ministers of Canada, France, Italy and Japan. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland represents the United States; US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is recovering from COVID-19 but is due to travel to Berlin for a weekend meeting of NATO foreign ministers.
The NATO gathering will also hear from the foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland as the two countries are set to join the Western military alliance amid concerns over Russia’s military threat.
Follow AP coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine