Washington will not support any deal on the supply of stranded Ukrainian grain if it involves easing sanctions on Russia, the 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 Black Sea ports. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres would like a deal that would ensure Ukrainian and Russian grain and fertilizer exports can safely reach foreign markets.
However, an unnamed US official told the newspaper that Washington would not agree to a deal that would lift all economic pressure on the Kremlin. “Instead, the administration plans to continue sending weapons to help Ukraine fight Russian forces,” Political reports.
Republicans on Capitol Hill have also bristled at Russian calls for sanctions relief. At the same time, US officials and global companies are closely watching Moscow’s talks with the UN, as well as separate negotiations with Turkey, over allowing safe passage of Ukrainian grain to world markets.
Meanwhile, any deal allowing Ukraine to export grain ahead of the summer wheat harvest would be a major step forward, the report said.
The African Union wants the lifting of Russian sanctions
Western countries have accused Russia of hampering exports, but Moscow has repeatedly said it was not responsible and that ships carrying Ukrainian grain could not leave ports due to mines placed in the area by the Ukrainian army. President Putin again said on Friday that Russia was in no way responsible for blocking shipments and promised to help ships pass.
Fears over the fate of Ukrainian grain have led to warnings of food insecurity and hunger in recent weeks, particularly in poorer countries.
Ukraine ranks sixth among the world’s largest wheat exporters and, together with Russia, provides nearly 30% of global supplies.
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