The U.S. dismissed Russia’s claim that the West has sanctioned Russian grain exports and refused any sanctions bargain to get Russia to lift its blockade of Ukrainian ports. Russia now controls 20 percent of Ukraine, including occupying or blocking its southern ports used to ship millions of tons of grain desperately needed to prevent widespread starvation and price hikes.
At a recent press briefing, State Department Spokesman Ned Price had unusually strong words for Russian claims the US has sanctioned Russian Ag exports. Price; “Lies, a series of disinformation regarding the issue of food security and the global food supply. Despite those claims, U.S. sanctions are not causing disruptions to Russia’s agricultural exports. The fact is that U.S. sanctions were specifically designed to allow for the export of agricultural commodities and fertilizer from Russia.”
As for Russian suggestions that Moscow might allow grain exports from Ukraine in return for the West lifting its other sanctions against Russia. Price; “Our non-food sanctions will remain in place until Putin stops his brutal war against Ukraine’s sovereignty, and the quickest solution to the rising commodity prices, the rising food prices that have had implications around the world, is for the Russians to cease this brutal war, for Russia to stop blockading Ukraine’s ports, for Russia to stop targeting grain silos, to stop targeting grain ships.”
Price says the U.S. finds it “appalling” that Russia would “weaponize” food and energy to try to bring the world “to heel”. Price; “It is Russia that continues to destabilize global food markets through its war, through its self-imposed export restrictions, which have raised the cost of food, around the globe.”
European Council president Charles Michel says, “the EU is sparing no efforts to free Ukraine’s exports over land and exploring alternative sea routes. African countries imported 44% of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine between 2018 and 2020, according to U.N. figures.
The African Development Bank is already reporting a 45% increase in wheat prices on the continent, while the price of fertilizer has tripled since last year.