Russia says it will allow food ships to leave Ukraine if some sanctions are lifted
- Russia has said it will allow ships carrying food to leave Ukrainian ports if some sanctions are lifted.
- Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea have been closed since the Russian invasion.
- More than 20 million tons of grain are stuck in Ukraine amid a global food crisis.
A senior Russian government official said the Kremlin would allow ships carrying food to leave Ukrainian ports in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.
Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea have been closed since the Russian invasion on February 24, leaving more than 20 million metric tons of grain stuck in Ukraine, according to Reuters. The disruption is exacerbating a global food crisis with Ukraine accounting for 12% of global wheat exports and 17% of global corn exports, according to ING Economics. It is also the largest exporter of sunflower oil in the world.
“We have repeatedly commented on the matter and said that solving the food problem requires a comprehensive approach, including lifting sanctions on Russian exports and financial transactions,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said on Wednesday. Interfax news agency.
Separately, Vasily Nebenzia, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, said there was a “safe corridor” allowing access to the main port of Odessa, according to a Reuters report.
But Nebenzia told Reuters that Ukraine needed to clear the waters before using the safe passages. “They mined the ports, not us,” he said. “There is a lane that exists and they are not using it.”
On Tuesday, citing a US government document obtained by the Washington Post, The Washington Post reported that the Russian Navy has disrupted trade in Ukraine’s ports and currently controls all traffic in the northern third of the Black Sea. This makes commercial shipping unsafe, according to the Post.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned on May 21 of a global food crisis if his country was still unable to ship grain from its ports.
“There will be a crisis in the world. The second crisis after the energy crisis provoked by Russia. Now it will create a food crisis. If we do not close the roads to Ukraine, it will not help the countries of Africa and Europe, Asia, which need these food products,” Zalensky said, according to a text from library.
The war caused commodity prices to rise significantly due to disruption of production and shipping from Russia and Ukraine, as well as a detrimental effect on world markets.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba responded to Rodenko’s proposal, calling it “an obvious blackmail,” according to CNN.
“You cannot find a better example of blackmail in international relations,” Kuleba told the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday, according to Reuters. “If anyone is buying it, I think there is a problem with that person, and we shouldn’t waste too much time trying to understand why that person made this point.”