Eamonn Holmes challenges George Eustice over Boris Johnson's calls to end Russia blockade: 'This is all talk'

Eamonn described plans to free grain from Russia as 'mission impossible'

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Eamonn Holmes has challenged George Eustice over Boris Johnson’s calls to free grain from Russia.

Mr Johnson will use Monday’s session at the G7 summit in Germany to call for urgent action to help get vital grain supplies out of Ukraine’s blockaded ports to support the country’s economy and alleviate shortages around the world.

Time is running out to prevent stores of grain rotting in silos, with July’s harvest set to exacerbate the problem.

Eamonn Holmes and George Eustice
Eamonn Holmes and George Eustice

As Russian missile strikes continued to hit Ukrainian towns and cities, Mr Johnson warned the country is on a “knife edge”, with Russian troops grinding forward in the east.

The blockade of major Ukrainian ports such as Odesa, attacks on farms and warehouses and the wider impact of the Russian invasion have all added to the problems facing food from the country reaching the global market.

Ukraine previously supplied 10 percent of the world’s wheat, up to 17 percent of the world’s maize and half of the world’s sunflower oil.

Some 25 million tonnes of corn and wheat is currently at risk of rotting in Ukrainian silos.

Speaking this morning, Mr Johnson said: “The logic of the position is still so clear, there is no deal that President (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy can do.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson

“So in those circumstances, the G7, supporters of Ukraine around the world have to continue to help the Ukrainians to rebuild their economy, to get their grain out and of course we have to help them to protect themselves and that’s what we have to do.”

But speaking to Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Mr Eustice on GB News’ Breakfast with Eamonn and Isabel, Eamonn said: “All we’ve got to do is negotiate these Russian blockades around various ports and just get the Ukrainians to sneak all their grain out, it’s as simple as that.”

Before Ms Eustice said: “It’s not simple at all, there’s two things that could be done, one thing is to get a safe passage through the Black Sea but that is very difficult because Ukraine have closed the port of Odessa for security reasons and there’s a lot of mines there and very few commercial shipping companies that will take the risk of sending ships to the black sea at the moment.

“The alternative would be to try to find a way of getting it out by land, probably by rail, but that would include and require some investment in repairing some of the rail infrastructure so it is a challenge."

Eamonn hit back, saying: “The Prime Minister comes out, I could say that, I could make up anything and no one questions it. “What he’s talking about is a mission impossible.

“At the very least the consequences of what he’s talking about is to provide military naval experts by sea. Surely this is all talk?"

Mr Eustice hit back by adding: “I don’t accept that and we need to think about what we can do to try to help Ukraine get out of store.

“One issue would be of trying to get out of that through the Black Sea, that’s very, very challenging, so a more likely route would be of trying to find a way of getting gout by a rail route.

“But these are the sort of things we have to address.”