President Karis: Russia is acting like a pirate in blocking Ukrainian grain exports on the Black Sea

  • 2023-09-19

In meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres in New York, President Alar Karis raised issues related to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine – first and foremost matters pertaining to Ukrainian grain exports – and stressed that attention needs to be turned to the use by the aggressor state of drones manufactured by Iran, which is currently under sanctions. “We must find solutions to the problems that Russia’s war has caused and help Ukraine find ways to export its grain, not ease the sanctions imposed on Russia as the aggressor state or allow it to run rampant and dictate terms on the Black Sea,” the head of state urged.

President Karis and his Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts Edgars Rinkēvičs and Gitanas Nausėda spoke with Secretary-General Guterres about the impact on global food security of the war of aggression instigated by Russia and discussed opportunities for Ukrainian grain exports. “We must maintain and, where possible, expand the humanitarian corridor open to Ukraine on the Black Sea, and in the European Union we must look for solutions to keep alternative channels open for the export of Ukrainian grain,” the Estonian head of state said. “In doing so, we must not give in to blackmail on the part of the aggressor. The Black Sea is not a Russian territorial sea. At present it is acting there like a pirate, restricting the free movement of vessels bearing humanitarian shipments and breaching international rules in doing so – including those of freedom of navigation.”

In summarising the meeting, President Karis remarked that the blame for the global food crisis lies entirely with Russia. “If there were no war there would be no crisis, and in persisting with its aggression, bombing Ukrainian ports, stealing and destroying Ukrainian grain, Russia is placing the lives of millions of people in jeopardy,” he warned. “The solution on which the UN must focus is to end this war, respecting Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and the peace plan proposed by President Zelensky.”

The meeting saw discussion of cooperation between EU Member States to keep grain transport channels open, including the possibility of using Baltic ports to increase Ukraine’s grain exports.

Furthermore, President Karis reiterated the importance of issuing strong messages condemning the war of aggression instigated by Russia and said it was vital that the UN investigate how drones produced by Iran – which is under UN Security Council sanctions – are being used by Russia to attack Ukrainian cities and their populations.

The head of state remarked that one of Estonia’s aims at the General Assembly is to make people around the world aware of the forced deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia and Belarus. “We must use all of the means available to us to end this and to return the children to Ukraine,” he insisted. “Issues pertaining to these deportations should remain the focus of international attention.”

Also discussed during the meeting were matters of impunity and the need to form an international tribunal to judge the crimes of aggression being committed in Ukraine.