Russia ties Ukraine’s grain release to sanctions relief
Over the week, Western leaders accused Russia of taking deliberate action in Ukraine to pressure international prices.
Facing accusations of “blackmail” from the West by confiscate tons of grain in UkraineRussia indicated that it is ready to create a “humanitarian corridor” in the Black Sea for the disposal of Ukrainian production in exchange for the relief of some sanctions against Moscow, avoiding a scenario of food shortages on the international market.
The Kremlin would be willing to grant a “safe-conduct” for food transport vessels to leave the Ukraineprovided the West lifts some of the sanctions imposed since the beginning of the war on February 24, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said, quoted by the Interfax news agency.
“We have repeatedly insisted on this point, that a solution to the food problem requires a comprehensive approach, including lifting the sanctions that have been imposed on Russian exports and financial transactions,” Rudenko said.
During the week, Western leaders accused Russia of deliberate action in Ukraine to pressure international prices by reducing supplies of wheat and sunflower oil. Ukraine is an important supplier of foodstuffs on the international market.
On Tuesday, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said that Russia is increasing its food exports and withholding supplies produced by Ukraine, to increase global prices or trading wheat in exchange for political support.
A recently revealed US intelligence report claims that a Russian naval blockade has disrupted maritime trade in Ukrainian ports. Despite Rudenko’s claims about the humanitarian corridor, Moscow does not admit that its actions have blocked the flow of grain.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov blamed the crisis on the West. “We categorically do not accept these accusations. On the contrary, we blame Western countries for the actions that led to this,” he said.
Also according to Interfax, Rudenko also stated that Moscow demands the removal of mines placed by Ukraine in the ports where the ships are anchored, adding that Russia maintains an open dialogue with the UN.
A Turkish diplomat official revealed yesterday that Turkey and Russia are in talks on opening a humanitarian corridor. The Turkish government regulates the transit of warships through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, which connect the Black and Aegean Seas, and triggered the Montreux Convention four days after Russia invaded Ukraine, preventing Moscow from taking more ships to the Black Sea.
Russia, however, circumvented the agreement by using merchant ships — which are not banned on waterways — to fuel military operations in Ukraine, according to The Middle East Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington.
“Turkey is negotiating with Russia and Ukraine on the export of Ukrainian grain,” said the Turkish official, requesting anonymity. “With a corridor to be opened from Turkey, there is a demand for these beans to reach key markets. Negotiations are still ongoing.”
With the war entering its fourth month, world leaders have intensified negotiations for solutions. World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said 25 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain is in storage and another 25 million tonnes could be harvested next month.
European countries have tried to ease the crisis by transporting grain out of Ukraine by trains, which are capable of transporting only a small fraction of what Ukraine produces.
Responding to the condition imposed by Russia for the creation of the humanitarian corridor, the Chancellor of the United Kingdom, Liz Truss, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of asking “a ransom to the world for food”.
“It is completely astonishing that Putin is trying to hold the world hostage, and he is essentially amplifying hunger and food shortages among the world’s poorest people,” he said. “We simply cannot allow that to happen.”