The US general nominated to be the next commander of NATO suggested in a Senate hearing on Thursday that he may offer military options to facilitate grain exports from Ukraine and help break Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s southern coast.
When asked what NATO could do about Russia’s blockade, Gen. Christopher Cavoli, who currently serves as the commander of US Army Forces in Europe and Africa, said if he’s confirmed, he would “provide the military options required by our civilian leaders.”
“Clearly the way we would approach that would have to be a whole of government approach, which may or may not include a military component,” he added.
It’s not clear from Cavoli’s answer if he means the options would include the US confronting Russian warships or if the military would just be involved in assisting with alternate ways to ship grain. He went on to mention efforts being made to ship more Ukrainian grain by rail to ports in western Europe.
While Washington is blaming the global grain shortages on Russia’s blockade, there are factors, including US sanctions and the fact that Ukraine has mined its ports. Russia announced Thursday that it cleared mines around Mariupol and that the Azov Sea port is now open to civil vessels.
Earlier in the hearing, Cavoli recognized that US sanctions are exacerbating the global grain shortages. “The grain shortages that we’re experiencing from both Russia and Ukrainian production being unable to come out of the countries in large volumes or being sanctioned and not being sold are being felt on the African continent,” he said.
President Biden has admitted that the sanctions campaign he is leading will cause food shortages. “With regard to food shortage, yes … it’s going to be real,” Biden said in March. “The price of these sanctions is not just imposed upon Russia, it’s imposed upon an awful lot of countries as well, including European countries and our country as well.”