The U.S. says Russia has no grounds to scuttle the Black Sea grain deal that has now freed up shipments of more than one million tons of Ukrainian grain and food items and helped ease war-fueled inflation. Is Russia again trying to blackmail the West over sanctions, this time threatening the Black Sea grain deal?
State Department Principal Deputy Spokesman Vedant Patel won’t say but dismisses Moscow’s complaints to UN officials.
“U.S. sanctions have always had clear exemptions for food and fertilizer, and our sanctions have never targeted humanitarian assistance. We want to see food and fertilizer reach global markets, and Russia must continue to live up to its commitments.”
Russia’s already cut off gas supplies to much of Europe and, in recent days, has stepped up its threats against the grain initiative brokered by Turkey and the UN.
“I believe there were allegations that grain was not going to countries that needed it,” Patel says. “That simply is not the case, either. Because of this arrangement, grain has been able to reach global markets and go to countries that need it desperately.
“And some of these other allegations that we’ve seen that one, global food prices are rising just aren’t the case. In fact, global food prices have fallen as a result of the Black Sea port arrangement.”
But the joint monitor for the shipments says still-high fuel and fertilizer prices are “placing immense pressure” on farmers, consumers, and millions who face poverty and hunger. Every shipment cleared helps calm markets, boost supplies, and “keeps farmers producing.”