New Delhi: Alleging that the ongoing crisis in Ukraine is being used by Western countries in their own interests, Russia on Thursday expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the Black Sea Grain Initiative it signed along with Ukraine and Turkey in Istanbul on July 22. As many as 12 ships have left three key Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea – Odesa, Chernomorsk, and Yuzhny – with 375 thousand tonnes of agricultural products since August 1.
However, after reports emerged of the first shipment from Ukraine carried by the Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni being abandoned in Lebanon`s Tripoli, Moscow said today that “it was wheat that the Lebanese needed and not corn and fodder”.
The Razoni was carrying 26,527 metric tonnes of corn and, as the Ukrainian embassy in Lebanon revealed on Tuesday, the cargo is waiting for new buyers with the seller company studying other orders to buy grain.
“Unfortunately, so far not a single ship with grain has reached the shores of the starving countries of Africa or South Asia. They go mainly to Western ports, and the range of exported goods is mainly not wheat, but corn grain and sunflower oil, which casts doubt on the sincerity of the theses voiced in the West that world food security depends on the grain deal,” Deputy Director of Russian Foreign Ministry`s Information and Press Department, Ivan Nechaev said in Moscow on Thursday.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative has been launched with the hope that it will help reduce soaring food prices worldwide and avert the possibility of famine afflicting millions in the months ahead.
Razoni was the first commercial ship to leave Ukraine since February 24 when Russia began its `Special Military Operation` in the neighbouring country.
Commenting on the shipment, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had said that ensuring existing grain and foodstuffs can move to global markets is a “humanitarian imperative” and the ship was loaded with two commodities in short supply – “corn, and hope”.
Russia emphasised that long before the agreements on grain were reached, its Defence Ministry kept the sea humanitarian corridors open and now their length has been increased to 307 nautical miles with the the operation being carried out around the clock.
Nechaev reminded that the package of documents signed in Istanbul included agreements not only on the export of grain from three Ukrainian ports that began a week and a half ago but also on the promotion of Russian food products and fertilizers to world markets, which, he said, is currently not being implemented.
“We hope that all package agreements will be implemented in full and Western countries will create the necessary conditions for access to world markets for Russian fertilisers and foodstuffs,” he said.
The senior foreign ministry official, while affirming that Russia will continue to participate in the work of the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul for the shipment of grain from Ukrainian ports, also highlighted the role being played by large American multinational companies in Ukrainian grain production and its export.
“Another revealing aspect was published by the Australian National Review. According to it, out of 64 million hectares of Ukrainian arable land, 17 million hectares were bought by the three largest American transnational corporations, food and chemical suppliers Cargill, Dupont and Monsanto. These companies grow grain in Ukraine, they also sell it,” Nechaev stated.