Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has delivered a speech to the House of Commons condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s weaponizing of grain exports and warning of repercussions should Russia use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
“The house will have noted Putin’s irresponsible talk about nuclear weapons, and absurd claim that Ukraine plans to detonate a radiological dirty bomb on its own territory,” Cleverly told fellow members of parliament on Oct. 31.
“No other country is talking about nuclear use,” he said. “No country is threatening Russia or President Putin.”
“He should be clear that for the U.K. and our allies, any use at all of nuclear weapons would fundamentally change the nature of this conflict. There would be severe consequences for Russia.”
Cleverly also implored Russia to stop hindering the export of Ukrainian grain, saying: “At the weekend, Russia suspended its participation in the Black Sea grain initiative, which has allowed the exportation of 100,000 tons of food every day, including to some of the least developed countries in the world.
“Putin is exacting vengeance for his military failures on the civilians of Ukraine by cutting off their power and water supply, and on the poorest people in the world by threatening their food supplies.”
“Over 60 percent of the wheat exported under the Black Sea grain initiative has gone to low and middle-income countries, including Ethiopia, Yemen and Afghanistan,” he added. “It would be unconscionable for those lands to be made to suffer because of Putin’s setbacks on the battlefield in Ukraine.”
“I urge Russia to stop impeding this vital initiative that is helping feed the hungry across the world and agree to its extension.”
Cleverly accused Putin of attempting revenge upon Ukraine and the west over his own military failures, saying that “increasingly desperate statements” from the Kremlin were deflections.
His comments come after Russia’s defense ministry baselessly claimed Britain was behind attacks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines in September – a claim Britain’s ministry of defense said was “invented”.
“To detract from their disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Russian defense ministry is resorting to peddling false claims of an epic scale,” Britain’s ministry of defense said in a statement released on Oct. 28.
“This invented story says more about arguments going on inside the Russian government than it does about the West.”