The United States and the EU are urging Russia to swiftly accept the reopening of Ukrainian ports.  "We should not use food as a weapon"

The United States and the European Union on Thursday urged Russia to swiftly accept the reopening of Ukrainian ports to allow the export of millions of tons of grain stored there and alleviate the global food crisis. Russia continues to claim that it does not block the export of Ukrainian grain.

Moscow “should act immediately to open these ports and put an end to this war,” US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told a news conference after talks at the UN. “This is a serious matter, we should not use food as a weapon,” he insisted, according to AFP, taken over by Agerpres.

The UN has been negotiating for weeks with Moscow, Kyiv and Ankara on an agreement that would allow Ukrainian cereals to leave Ukraine safely and Russian-produced fertilizers to return to the international market.

Moscow complains that its exports are being hampered by economic sanctions.

If an agreement is reached, it will reduce food prices and reduce the world’s food crisis, which is exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Tom Vilsack reaffirmed that US sanctions do not apply to food and fertilizer.

Neither did European sanctions, European Foreign Minister Josep Borrell confirmed at a UN Security Council meeting on EU co-operation. “EU sanctions are not the cause of food shortages,” because “they are aimed at the Kremlin’s ability to finance military aggression, not the conduct of legitimate trade,” Borrell said.

“EU sanctions do not prohibit the import and transport of Russian agricultural products, fertilizers, or payment for these Russian exports,” and “our measures do not affect the ability of third countries to buy from Russia,” the European foreign minister said.

At present, “Russia is blocking at least 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain, which cannot reach world markets,” Josep Borrell said, urging Moscow to reopen Russian-blocked ports.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzia, has denied the allegations. “It simply came to our notice then. There is no obstacle in this regard, “he said.

Asked about a plan by US President Joe Biden to build silos in Poland to store Ukrainian wheat, Tom Vilsack explained that it was a matter of “reducing the risk of grain loss”, avoiding theft and preserving their quality.

Editor: BP

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