A senior U.S. official said on Wednesday that nations could turn to the United States for assistance if they encounter any difficulties importing Russian food and fertiliser, emphasising that such products were exempt from U.S. sanctions related to Moscow’s conflict in Ukraine.
But he added that concerns had been raised about “so-called over compliance with sanctions.” Washington has slapped Moscow with a broad range of sanctions since Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine on Feb. 24.
According to Ramin Toloui, Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs at the U.S. State Department, “Nothing is stopping Russia from exporting its grain or fertiliser except for own policies and actions.”
Facilitating Russian food and grain exports is a key part of attempts by U.N. and Turkish officials to broker a package deal with Moscow that would also allow for shipments of Ukraine grain from the Black Sea port of Odesa.
“We’ll continue close coordination with the U.N. delegation and the government of Ukraine on ways to mitigate the impacts to global food security of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s war in Ukraine.”
A meeting between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and U.N. officials would likely be held in Istanbul in coming weeks, sources in the Turkish presidency said on Tuesday. “We are fully supportive of this and want to see that play out,” Toloui said of the U.N. efforts.
Russia’s war has stoked a global food crisis. Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, while Russia is also a key fertilizer exporter and Ukraine is an exporter of corn and sunflower oil.
Moscow denies responsibility for the food crisis, blaming Western sanctions and Ukraine for mining its Black Sea ports. “The United States does not want there to be impediments to the ability of countries, companies to purchase Russian food, Russian fertilizer, and for those goods to access international markets,” Toloui said.
He encouraged countries to contact the U.S. Treasury Department or local U.S. embassies if they were having issues. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will attend a food security ministerial meeting in Germany on Friday ahead of a three-day Group of Seven (G7) nations summit, also in Germany, starting Sunday.
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