United States Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, on Monday expressed regrets over Russia’s decision to suspend participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
Blinken, in statement, said the Russian government’s continued weaponization of food harms millions of vulnerable people around the world.
Since August 2022, the Black Sea Grain Initiative has shipped over 32 million metric tons of Ukrainian grains and foodstuffs to the world, including some of the most food insecure regions of the globe like the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, Yemen, and Afghanistan.
More broadly, every shipment under the Initiative has contributed to reducing hardship in the world’s poorest countries, since bringing grain to world markets lowers food prices for all.
Despite Russia’s claims, Blinken said the UN had facilitated record Russian exports of food, coordinating with the private sector and with the U.S., EU and UK to clarify any concerns raised by Russia.
“As we have consistently made clear, no G7 sanctions are in place on Russian food and fertilizer exports.
“Russia unfortunately does not contribute to the World Food Programme, and its exports focus on higher income countries, not the world’s poorest.
“This decision is consistent with Russia’s veto last week of a UN Security Council resolution reauthorizing critical cross-border humanitarian assistance to Syrians.
“The cynical actions hurt the world’s most vulnerable.’’
According to him, the United States is thankful to the UN and Türkiye for their work to extend the lifesaving Black Sea Grain Initiative and bring both Ukrainian and Russian grain to world markets.
He said the U.S. urged the Government of Russia to reverse its decision, resume negotiations, and extend, expand, and fully implement the Initiative immediately for the benefit of the millions of people who depend on Ukrainian grains.
Russia had on Monday suspended its participation in the Black Sea grain export deal, according to Kremlin Spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.
“Unfortunately, the part of these Black Sea agreements that concerns Russia has not been implemented so far, so its effect is terminated,’’ local media reported, quoting Peskov.
Russia had been complaining that its demands to improve its own grain and fertilizer exports have not been met.
Peskov nonetheless noted that as soon as the Russian part of the agreements was fulfilled, the country would immediately return to the deal.
Russia and Ukraine signed separately with Türkiye and the United Nations, the Black Sea Grain Initiative in Istanbul in July 2022.
It allowed Ukraine to export its grain and other agricultural products from its Black Sea ports.
The initiative, which was initially valid for 120 days, was extended in mid-November 2022 for another 120 days till March 18. (NAN)