The United States on Thursday rejected a demand by Russian President Vladimir Putin to lift Western economic sanctions on his country over the war in Ukraine.
According to the Kremlin, Putin told Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi that Moscow was prepared to allow food and fertilizer shipments to prevent an international food crisis, but on the condition that “sanctions imposed by the the West with political motives “.
Earlier, a spokesman for the Russian presidency, Dmitry Peshkov, also said that grain exports from Ukraine would be allowed to resume if sanctions against Russia were lifted.
White House spokeswoman Karin Jean-Pierre argued that it was Russia’s naval blockade that was blocking the transport of tons of food and fertilizer, not Western sanctions, adding that there was no question of lifting the sanctions.
“There is no (such) debate. Russia is causing all this,” Jean-Pierre insisted. Moscow “must immediately end its war against Ukraine”, which “affects global food security”, he insisted.
“Russia, which is blocking the export of food from Ukrainian ports, is increasing world hunger. The responsibility is its own,” he said.
Russia and Ukraine are among the top grain exporters in the world and therefore play a critical role in supplying many countries with food. In recent weeks, the international community has been urging Russia to allow exports of Ukrainian grain. The Russian Navy has blocked Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea, complains Kyiv.
The government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke of Russian blackmail yesterday and called on the West not to lift sanctions before Moscow ends the war.
Mr Peshkov, for his part, accused Kyiv of lacking realism, insisting that Moscow’s demands, in particular its abandonment of control of Russian-speaking regions in Donbass and its acceptance of Crimean annexation, be met. Mr Zelensky insists Ukraine will not surrender any part of its territory and is determined to continue fighting.
Mr. Draghi said that during his telephone conversation with Mr. Putin, he stated that the Russian president wants to help resolve the international food crisis. The Italian prime minister added that he would speak to Mr Zelenski shortly to hear his views.
Asked if he thought there was even a glimmer of hope that peace talks would resume after his conversation with the Russian president, Mr. Draghi answered in the unequivocal “no”.
I am Derek Black, an author of World Stock Market. I have a degree in creative writing and journalism from the University of Central Florida. I have a passion for writing and informing the public. I strive to be accurate and fair in my reporting, and to provide a voice for those who may not otherwise be heard.