Minsk could get waiver in exchange for Ukrainian grain shipment, US official reportedly says
The United States is considering giving Belarus a six-month waiver from sanctions imposed on its chemical industry last year, in exchange for opening up railways to start shipping grain from Ukraine to Lithuania , reported the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed US officials.
The sanctions were imposed in Minsk following opposition protests in the country and a border crisis involving hundreds of asylum seekers from the Middle East trying to reach Poland and Lithuania via Belarus. The EU and the United States have accused President Alexander Lukashenko of orchestrating the crisis and imposing restrictions on the export of fertilizer, a major source of foreign currency earnings for Belarus. Minsk has denied directing refugees to European nations.
Washington would like to temporarily lift the sanctions both to increase the supply of fertilizer on the world market and to induce Minsk to help Western countries get Ukrainian grain out of the country. The cargoes would go to the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda.
Ukrainian shipping lanes have been cut off due to the Russian military campaign in the country. The United States has accused Russia of causing a global food shortage through its naval blockade in the Black Sea and wants it to allow cargo ships to use the kyiv-controlled port of Odessa to export grain reserves.
Moscow has denied the charges, saying the shortages were predicted years ago due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the disruption to supply chains it has caused.
Western nations are making matters worse with their sanctions on Russia and its ally Belarus, Russian officials say, preventing other nations from buying their fuel, fertilizers and foodstuffs, all of which affect the world’s food supply.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who serves as Deputy Chairman of the Security Council, has called Western policies targeting Russia “cosmic cretinism” Thursday.
“These ‘penalties from hell’ aren’t worth a penny when it comes to essentials. Power supply to heat homes. Food to feed people. Millions of citizens who really only want one thing of their politicians: an opportunity for a normal, calm and prosperous life”, he said.
“Sanctions get in the way of that. Just like NATO enlargement. And this scramble with payments on debts and stuff, “ he said, referring to some of the points of contention between Russia and the West.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the republics from the Donbass of Donetsk and Lugansk. The protocols negotiated by Germany and France were designed to give breakaway regions a special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. kyiv insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied claims it planned to retake the two republics by force.