Washington will not support any agreement on the supply of stranded Ukrainian grain if it involves easing sanctions against Russia, Politico newspaper reported on Sunday, citing sources.
According to the report, the UN is currently trying to broker a deal with Moscow to allow Ukraine to restart grain exports from ports in the Black Sea. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres reportedly wants an agreement that would ensure both Ukrainian and Russian grain and fertilizer exports can safely reach foreign markets.
However, an unnamed US official told the newspaper that Washington wouldn’t agree to a deal that lifted any economic pressure on the Kremlin. “Instead, the administration is planning to keep sending weapons to help Ukraine fight off Russian forces,” Politico reports.
Republicans on Capitol Hill have also bristled at the Russian calls for sanctions relief. At the same time, US officials and global businesses are closely watching Moscow’s talks with the UN, as well as separate negotiations with Turkey, on allowing safe passage for Ukrainian grain to the world markets.
Meanwhile, any deal to allow Ukraine to export grain ahead of the summer wheat harvest would be a major breakthrough, the report said.
Western countries have accused Russia of impeding exports, but Moscow has repeatedly stated that it is not to blame and that the ships carrying Ukrainian grain are unable to leave ports due to mines placed in the area by the Ukrainian military. President Putin on Friday once again said that Russia is in no way responsible for holding up shipments and promised to assist in the ships’ passage.
Fears over the fate of Ukrainian grain have led to warnings of food insecurity and hunger in the past weeks, especially in poorer nations.
Ukraine ranks sixth among the world’s biggest wheat exporters and together with Russia provides nearly 30% of global supplies.
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