Russian envoy leaves UN chamber after food crisis argument with European official

Vassily Nebenzia left after criticism about Russia's blockade of Ukrainian ports

Russia's UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia left the UN Security Council chamber angrily after criticism about the invasion of Ukraine. Photo: AFP
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Russia's UN envoy, Vassily Nebenzia, walked out of the UN Security Council after a senior European official accused Moscow of stoking a global food crisis through its invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Nebenzia departed the chamber after European Council President Charles Michel on Monday accused Russian forces of blockading Ukrainian ports and committing sexual violence.

Mr Michel told the 15-nation council he had witnessed Russia's blockade on the port of Odesa, with cargo containers and ships loaded with grain and wheat unable to leave.

"Russia alone" was causing delays and no "campaign of lies and disinformation" would change that, he said.

He also accused Moscow of attacking Ukraine’s transport and food storage facilities, while its tanks, air strikes and mines were stopping farmers from planting and harvesting.

Sexual violence against Ukrainians was a "tactic of torture, terror and repression" in the war, which began on February 24.

During his own statement earlier to the council, Mr Nebenzia rejected all claims of sexual violence by Russian soldiers, condemning the accusations as a "lie."

As he left the Security Council during the European's statement, Mr Nebenzia told Reuters he "couldn't stay" in the chamber because of "the lies" being spread there.

Addressing Mr Nebenzia directly as he exited, Mr Michel said: "You may leave the room. Maybe it's easier not to listen to the truth."

Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies. The war has also impacted exports of fertiliser, corn and sunflower oil — pushing up prices and fuelling a global food crisis.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is trying to broker a deal to resume food and fertiliser exports from the region.

Updated: June 08, 2022, 2:07 PM