The West cannot allow Russia to keep blackmailing the world

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Let there be no doubt who is responsible for the shortages of grain and cooking oil that have helped fuel global inflation in recent months and, more to the point, sent the hungry in poorer nations to the brink of starvation.

The blame lies solely and firmly with Vladimir Putin and his illegal and cruel war against Ukraine. It is Russia that has disrupted the harvest; it is Russia that has stolen Ukrainian grain for its own purposes; and it is Russia that has mined the port of Odesa and restricted normal maritime traffic. President Putin has acted alone in his decision to weaponise goods and supplies.

That is the context within which the world may breathe a sigh of relief as the new deal to release grain exports from the region has been agreed. It has been brokered with Russia by Turkey, the regional power controlling access to the Black Sea, and agreed with Ukraine and the United Nations. Some 20 million tonnes of grain, plus other foodstuffs, will now be released before they rot.

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