The foreign ministry of Russia doubts the sincerity of Western countries' global food security concerns. It has noted that grain-loaded ships from Ukrainian Black Sea ports are mostly heading to the West, rather than to starving African or Asian countries. Speaking at a press briefing today, Ivan Nechaev, the deputy director of the ministry’s information and press department, said, "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 these voices in the West that world food security depends on the ‘grain deal’," Nechaev said, referring to the recent deal between Moscow and Kyiv which allowed the resumption of grain exports from Ukrainian ports.
Before the deal, Ukraine and its Western supporters were accusing Russia of deliberately preventing food shipments and in this way threatening global food security. Moscow repeatedly denied those claims, saying that Ukraine had made the shipments impossible by laying naval mines in the waterways around the ports.
The foreign ministry spokesman also touched on the situation with the Sierra Leone-flagged freighter Razoni, which sailed out of Odessa on 1 August, carrying 26,000 metric tonnes of chicken feed destined for Lebanon. The ship was turned back from Beirut on Monday, after the Lebanese buyer refused to accept the shipment, on the grounds of it being several months too late.
"As it turned out, there was not the wheat on board that the Lebanese needed, but corn, fodder corn," Nechaev said. His remarks about the destinations of Ukrainian grain echo a recent article by New York Times. On Tuesday, the outlet noted that since the Istanbul deal took effect on 1 August, none of the 10 ships that have left the Ukrainian ports was bound for Yemen, Somalia, or other countries facing "catastrophic levels of hunger."
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky told his counterpart Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana on Monday that Ukraine was committed to remaining "a reliable food exporter."
Stressing that Russia is "committed to its obligations and is looking forward to the effective fulfilment of the Istanbul deal," Nechaev noted that the deal includes agreements not only on the export of grain from the Ukrainian ports but also on the normalisation of food exports from his country to the world market.
While implementation of one part of the deal has been ongoing for a week and a half now, the other element is yet to be fulfilled, Nechaev said, expressing hope that the Western countries will "create the necessary conditions" for access to Russian fertilisers and food to the global markets.