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Russia says it’s up to Kyiv and the West to solve the global food crisis

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“Western countries, which have created a lot of problems by closing their ports to Russian ships, cutting logistical and financial chains, need to think carefully about the most important thing,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a statement. Moscow.

For the Russian ruler, the West can “make public the issue of food security” or “solve this problem with concrete measures.”

“The ball is on their side,” Lavrov stressed during a visit to Bahrain.

Sergei Lavrov also urged Ukraine, which has been facing a Russian invasion for three months now, to clear its territorial waters around its ports to allow grain ships to pass through the Black Sea.

“If the problem with mine clearance is resolved (…), the Russian naval forces will ensure the unimpeded passage of these ships to the Mediterranean Sea and on to their destination,” Lavrov assured.

The conflict in Ukraine has upset the global food balance and raises fears of a crisis that will particularly affect the poorest countries.

Ukraine, a major exporter of grains, especially corn and wheat, has blocked production due to the fighting.

In turn, Russia, another power in this sector, cannot sell its products and its fertilizers due to Western sanctions affecting the financial and logistics sectors. The two countries produce a third of the world’s wheat.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin assured that he was ready to work with Turkey to ensure the movement of goods in the Black Sea, including grain from Ukraine.

On the other hand, the UN today called “constructive” talks held on Monday with the Russian government aimed at facilitating the export of food and fertilizers from the country.

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United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretary-General Rebeca Greenspan met in Moscow on Monday with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov and traveled to Washington on Tuesday to meet with US officials, the organization said. Today.

“The goal of the talks, as we said, is focused on facilitating the promotion of Russian grains and fertilizers to world markets in response to growing food shortages,” said spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.

A UNCTAD representative has taken the lead on this issue on behalf of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who has been trying for weeks to push for a broader agreement that would also include Ukrainian food staples for some of the world’s poorest countries where hunger is getting worse.

According to various estimates, Ukraine has about 22 million tons of grain in its elevators, which it cannot take out of the country as a result of the conflict, since Russia blocks the Black Sea, and Ukrainian ports are mined to prevent the landing of Russian troops. .

The Russian foreign minister traveled to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, today to meet with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan and the head of the Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation, his spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

Lavrov is due to meet with the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Wednesday.

The Riyadh-based organization includes key members of the OPEC+ oil alliance, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and an alliance the group signed in 2021 with ten foreign producers, including Russia.

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Despite pressure from Washington to increase oil production to calm energy prices, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have shown their commitment to OPEC+ by distancing themselves from their traditional partner, the United States.

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Vladimir Putin has delayed the invasion of Ukraine at least three times.

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Putin has repeatedly consulted with Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the invasion, Europa Press told Ukraine’s chief intelligence director Vadim Skibitsky.

According to Skibitsky, it was the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which is responsible for counterintelligence and espionage work, that put pressure on Gerasimov and other military agencies to agree to launch an offensive. .

However, according to the Ukrainian intelligence services, the FSB considered that by the end of February sufficient preparations had already been made to guarantee the success of the Russian Armed Forces in a lightning invasion.

However, according to Kyiv, the Russian General Staff provided the Russian troops with supplies and ammunition for only three days, hoping that the offensive would be swift and immediately successful.

The head of Ukrainian intelligence also emphasized the cooperation of local residents, who always provided the Ukrainian authorities with up-to-date information about the Russian army, such as the number of soldiers or the exact location of troops.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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Life sentence for former Swedish official for spying for Russia

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A Stockholm court on Monday sentenced a former Swedish intelligence officer to life in prison for spying for Russia, and his brother to at least 12 years in prison. In what is considered one of the most serious cases in Swedish counterintelligence history, much of the trial took place behind closed doors in the name of national security.

According to the prosecution, it was Russian military intelligence, the GRU, who took advantage of the information provided by the two brothers between 2011 and their arrest at the end of 2021.

Peyman Kia, 42, has held many senior positions in the Swedish security apparatus, including the army and his country’s intelligence services (Säpo). His younger brother, Payam, 35, is accused of “participating in the planning” of the plot and of “managing contacts with Russia and the GRU, including passing on information and receiving financial rewards.”

Both men deny the charges, and their lawyers have demanded an acquittal on charges of “aggravated espionage,” according to the Swedish news agency TT.

The trial coincides with another case of alleged Russian espionage, with the arrest of the Russian-born couple in late November in a suburb of Stockholm by a police team arriving at dawn in a Blackhawk helicopter.

Research website Bellingcat identified them as Sergei Skvortsov and Elena Kulkova. The couple allegedly acted as sleeper agents for Moscow, having moved to Sweden in the late 1990s.

According to Swedish press reports, the couple ran companies specializing in the import and export of electronic components and industrial technology.

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The man was again detained at the end of November for “illegal intelligence activities.” His partner, suspected of being an accomplice, has been released but remains under investigation.

According to Swedish authorities, the arrests are not related to the trial of the Kia brothers.

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Ukraine admitted that Russia may announce a general mobilization

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“They can strengthen their positions. We understand that this can happen. At the same time, we do not rule out that they will announce a general mobilization,” Danilov said in an interview with the Ukrainska Pravda online publication.

Danilov believed that this mobilization would also be convened “to exterminate as many as possible” of Russian citizens, so that “they would no longer have any problems on their territory.”

In this sense, Danilov also reminded that Russia has not given up on securing control over Kyiv or the idea of ​​the complete “destruction” of Ukraine. “We have to be ready for anything,” he said.

“I want everyone to understand that [os russos] they have not given up on the idea of ​​destroying our nation. If they don’t have Kyiv in their hands, they won’t have anything in their hands, we must understand this,” continued Danilov, who also did not rule out that a new Russian offensive would come from “Belarus and other territories.” .

As such, Danilov praised the decision of many of its residents who chose to stay in the Ukrainian capital when the war broke out in order to defend the city.

“They expected that there would be panic, that people would run, that there would be nothing to protect Kyiv,” he added, referring to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

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At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The Russian invasion, justified by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the need to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine for Russia’s security, was condemned by the international community at large, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and imposing political and economic sanctions on Russia.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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