Question: What can you say about statements by State Department Press Secretary Ned Price, the EU delegation in Moscow and other officials about the grain deal extension?
Maria Zakharova: The first comments, including those made by Washington and the EU delegation in Moscow in connection with the announcement of the Russian position on the Black Sea Initiative regarding Ukrainian food exports are stunningly hypocritical and unprofessional. They completely distort the facts.
We understand that Moscow’s decision was a kind of a cold shower for the American and EU officials. We realise that there was confidence in Western capitals that everything would continue to follow a scenario in which they benefit. According to this scenario, Russian agricultural exports would be blocked whereas grain exports from Ukraine would continue growing unimpeded, bringing huge profits to the Kiev regime that it needs, in part, to pay for the never-ending flow of Western weapons and ammunition.
We would advise the sources of such statements to read again the Istanbul agreements and statements made by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and other UN top officials to the effect that the Black Sea Initiative and the Russia-UN memorandum on bringing Russian fertiliser and food to world markets are an interconnected, package deal. Had they done so, their words about the absence of a link between the two agreements would not have sounded so absurd and humiliating for any professional diplomat, including from the EU delegation.
The statements repeated by Washington that Russian agricultural exports are not covered by the unilateral sanctions of the US and its satellites are equally hypocritical. The reality is the opposite. UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan, the head of a working group whom Mr Guterres instructed to work on the Russia-UN memorandum, has faced this reality in full measure.
There has been no progress in reconnecting Rosselkhozbank to SWIFT, resuming supplies of agricultural equipment and spare parts to Russia, cancelling restrictions, access to ports for Russian vessels and cargo, or unblocking the accounts and financial activities of domestic fertiliser producers.
Without specific steps towards resolving these systemic problems, all Western vows about humanitarian exemptions from sanctions, assurances of commitment to global food security and expressions of support for the efforts of the UN Secretary-General are no more than deliberate deception and outright lies.