Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations stormed out of a U.N. Security Council meeting on Monday after the president of the European Council blamed rising global food prices on Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
“Mr. Ambassador of the Russian Federation, let’s be honest, the Kremlin is using food supplies as a stealth missile against developing countries,” European Council President Charles Michel said to Vassily Nebenzia, according to Newsweek. “Russia is solely responsible for this food crisis.”
Michel also reportedly said that Russia had been preventing Ukraine from growing and exporting food and alleged that Russian soldiers were stealing Ukrainian grain.
Food production and distribution have been a problem for the former Soviet country since the Russian invasion began at the end of February.
A blockade of key ports such as Mariupol and Odesa has prevented more than 20 million tons of grain from leaving the country, Ukrainian officials have said.
Calling reports of sexual violence by Russian soldiers “a tactic of torture, terror and repression,” Michel reportedly accused Russian military members of war crimes.
Newsweek reports that Nebenzia had “categorically refuted” Michel’s accusations earlier in the meeting.
“You may leave the room,” Michel reportedly said as the Russian ambassador left the room. “Maybe it’s easier not to listen to the truth.”
“A visibly irritated” Nebenzia told Reuters that he “couldn’t stay” because of “the lies that Charles Michel came here to distribute.”
Satellite images seemed to show Russian bulk carrier ships at the Crimean port of Sevastopol last month and CNN reported that the ships were loading stolen grain.
Biden administration officials told the news outlet last week that the administration is working on getting temporary storage containers into Ukraine so the country can store its grain.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is slated to visit Turkey on Wednesday to discuss re-starting grain exports from Ukraine.
According to Reuters, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is putting together what he refers to as a “package deal” that would help both Ukrainian and Russian food exports resume.
On Monday, Josep Borrell Fontelles, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, criticized a Russian missile strike over the weekend that destroyed the second largest grain terminal in Ukraine.
“Another Russian missile strike contributing to the global food crisis,” Borrell tweeted. “In light of such reports, the disinformation spread by Putin deflecting blame becomes ever more cynical.”