RUSSIA- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. will do “whatever is necessary” to make sure all countries can export their food products safely in the Black Sea region if there was a revival of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed these sentiments at the United Nations (UN) after chairing a Security Council meeting on August 3 on food insecurity caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
In July, Russia withdrew from the grain deal, which had allowed Ukraine to export 33 million metric tons of corn, wheat, and other grains despite Russia’s invasion. The agreement was brokered by Türkiye and the UN in July 2022 and was seen as a diplomatic success of the war.
It was renewed thrice until Russia felt that the terms of a parallel deal to support its exports were dishonored.
“In the event of a return to the agreement, of course, we’ll continue to do whatever is necessary to make sure that everyone can export their food and food products freely and safely including Russia,” Blinken told reporters. “We want to see that food on world markets. We want everyone to benefit from the lower prices.”
However, state news agency RIA quoted the Kremlin as saying that Russia does not believe the promise that Washington will help ensure Moscow can freely export food if it returns to the Black Sea grain deal.
EU warns developing countries on Russia’s intentions
Meanwhile, the European Union has warned developing countries that Russia is offering cheap grain “to create new dependencies by exacerbating economic vulnerabilities and global food insecurity,” according to a letter seen by Reuters
According to Reuters, the UN has argued that the Black Sea deal helped everyone because it brought prices down 23% from a record high in the weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Since it left the grain deal, Russia has boasted about its ability to replace Ukrainian grain exports and has repeatedly attacked ports and grain infrastructure destroying 180,000 tonnes of grain crops in the process.
At the recently held Russia-Africa Summit, Putin promised to provide free grain to several African countries battling food insecurity.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell wrote to developing and Group of 20 countries on Monday to urge them to speak “with a clear and unified voice” to push Moscow to return to the grain deal and to stop targeting Ukraine’s agricultural infrastructure.
Russia has said it could return to the agreement if its demands to improve its own exports of grain and fertilizer are met.