May 30, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

NYT: Russia may sell Ukrainian grain to African countries

In mid-May, the United States sent a warning to 14 countries (mostly African) that Russian ships were trying to sell “stolen Ukrainian grain”,

According to the publication, in the letter, the US administration indicated the names of three cargo ships that allegedly left the Black Sea ports with grain on board.

The State Department, in response to a request from the publication, said that the United States “is working with other countries to prevent the sale of grain that was likely stolen from Ukraine.” Officials from several other countries said that Washington asked them to prevent the purchase of illegally obtained Ukrainian grain. The interlocutors of the newspaper stressed that the US message was not coercive.

The New York Times writes about the dilemma that arose in African states after receiving a message from Washington: on the one hand, it is possible to get cheap grain against the backdrop of rising world prices, and on the other hand, buying grain from Russia would not please the United States and would mean making a profit from the actions of the Russian army in Ukraine.

According to the director of the Kenyan International Institute for Strategic Studies HORN, Hassan Hannenje, food shortages in Africa so acute that the countries of the continent do not care where it comes from, even from Ukraine. “[Для них это] not a dilemma. Those who try to talk about morality here are mistaken,” the expert believes.

According to the Ukrainian authorities, Russia could appropriate up to 500,000 tons of grain worth up to $100 million. Most of it was taken from Zaporozhye, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Part of this volume was sent to the Crimea by trucks, and then loaded onto ships.

Previously, 40% of Ukraine’s exports went to African countries. Now, due to supply problems and drought on the continent, about 17 million people are suffering from hunger.

In such circumstances, African countries are unlikely to hesitate before buying grain from Russian ships, which could be taken out of Ukraine. In total, more than 10 ships left the ports of Crimea, some of which are under US sanctions. When going to sea, ships often turn off their transponders to hide departures. They moored in Turkey, Syria, on several occasions turned off tracking devices in the Mediterranean Sea.

On June 3, in an interview with the Rossiya 1 TV channel, President Vladimir Putin said that Ukrainian grain can be exported in five directions, the simplest and cheapest of which is Belarus. However, for export through the country, sanctions must be lifted from it, he noted. According to him, the grain can also be taken out through Ukrainian-controlled ports after they have been cleared. Russia is ready to help with the export of goods, to ensure the safety and entry of foreign ships into the Azov and Black Seas. On June 6, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed that “specialists” had already been sent for negotiations with Ukraine on the export of grain, which would be held in Turkey. Employees of the Russian Foreign Ministry will join them the next day.

Also today, June 6, Politico, citing sources, learned about the US refusal to lift sanctions on Russia in exchange for grain exports. According to the sources, Washington is waiting for further progress in the negotiations between Russia and the UN on the supply of grain, to see if Moscow will give up the demand to lift sanctions. Republican Senator Jim Rish said that Russia’s demand to ease sanctions in exchange for lifting the blockade on the ports allegedly amounts to “blackmail”.

The head of the UN World Food Program (WFP), David Beasley, said earlier that if hostilities in Ukraine continue, 323 million people around the world may be on the verge of starvation.

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