Lithuania seeks Japan’s cooperation in convoy to escort Ukrainian grain

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis speaks in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun in Tokyo on Monday.

The Lithuanian foreign affairs minister has asked for Japan’s cooperation with a proposed convoy of allied navies that would escort Ukrainian shipments of grain to alleviate a global food crisis.

In a Monday interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun, Foreign Affairs Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said this was the only solution to the crisis caused by the blockade of the Black Sea coast — the base for Ukraine’s grain exports — resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Lithuania has proposed establishing a maritime corridor from the port of Odesa in southern Ukraine to the Bosporus Strait leading out of the Black Sea, with allied countries escorting Ukrainian cargo ships.

Landsbergis said it would be difficult to reach an agreement on a plan proposed by Ukraine to form a convoy under the leadership of the United Nations, because “the decision has to be made in the Security Council, where Russia is blocking everything that it doesn’t like.”

He said talks on Lithuania’s proposal were already underway with Britain and member nations of the European Union.

“If the decision is not found in the United Nations, then we will need other format where this option has to be discussed. And I think one of the options could be a G7 where Japan plays a very significant role … this could be a table where solution could be held,” Landsbergis said.

More people from developing and other countries may be forced to live as refugees in the face of severe hunger amid the food crisis caused by Russia’s invasion, the minister said.

“Putin is opening a new front of war. This time not just against Ukraine, but this time against all the world,” Landsbergis said. “A new harvest will start coming in. And if we don’t find the solution by then, the food will go to waste … the clock is ticking.”