EU Blocking Grain and Fertilizer Deliveries to Poor Countries?

At the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting on Sept. 16, President Putin announced that Russia was ready to provide to poor countries, free of charge, the some 300 tons of Russian fertilizers that are now sitting stranded in European ports due to the EU sanctions. During his discussion with Antonio Guterres on Sept.14, he said, he had asked the UN Secretary General to use the UN’s influence on the European Commission to demand that they “lift these clearly discriminatory restrictions on developing countries and provide access for Russian fertilizers to their markets”.

Under the agreements on delivery of Russian and Ukrainian food and fertilizer concluded in May and late July, the EU agreed to a partial lift of the sanctions for those products entering Europe. However, further shipments of the goods to other markets are still prohibited, due to Western sanctions on shipping and insurance companies dealing with Russia — although you would never know it from following the mainstream media, that mindlessly blame Moscow for the shortages.

Antonio Guterres, on the contrary, did acknowledge that the EU was blocking the exports, in an interview with RIA Novosti published Sept. 16. He said he had discussed the issue with “the leaders of the EU” in the meantime, and “I hope there will be a positive change with regard to the possibility of distributing Russian grain and fertilizers without obstacles through Europe to other markets”. He also said that the World Food Program should be able to help Russia provide fertilizers free of charge to developing countries.

As for grain deliveries, Vladimir Putin recalled on Sept. 7 that the Russian government had pushed so hard for an agreement on the export of Ukrainian stocks in the expectation that they would be delivered to “the poor nations of Africa and elsewhere”. However, leaving aside the shipments that were processed in Turkey and further exported from there, he asserted that almost the entirety of the grain exports from Ukraine went to the European Union. Only two ships out of 87 were assigned to the World Food Program for Africa, which is particularly scandalous, given the fact that the WFP relief deliveries depended almost exclusively on Ukrainian grain before the war.

While Putin’s accusations are dismissed in Western capitals as an attempt to refute the agreements, many NGOs have described them, at worst, as “not inaccurate”. According to official UN statistics, 50% of the Ukrainian grain under UN purview went to “high income countries”, of which 36% to the European Union. Meanwhile, farmers in the EU are being ordered to reduce production drastically, either voluntarily or forcibly through the soaring costs of fuel, fertilizers and electricity.

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