The United States will not agree to lift sanctions against Russia in exchange for the Kremlin lifting its blockade of Ukraine’s ports to restart Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea, U.S. political media outlet Politico reported on June 5.
Politico said the United Nations is trying to broker a deal with Russia to allow Ukraine to restart grain exports.
Biden administration officials and lawmakers, however, are highly skeptical that Russia is operating in good faith.
Their primary reason for pessimism: recent comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian officials suggesting they would ease the blockade on Ukraine's ports if, in exchange, the West lifts its economic sanctions on Moscow.
That proposal is "complicating" the "fragile" negotiations, a U.N. official told Politico shortly before the U.N.'s top humanitarian official wrapped up two days of talks on the blockade in Moscow on June 3.
One U.S. official described Moscow's pitch as "extortion diplomacy," and said the United States wouldn't agree to a deal that lifted any economic pressure on the Kremlin.
On June 3, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin said that there is no problem with the export of grain from Ukraine: It could be exported in five different ways, he said.
Putin also said that Russia was ready to ensure the safe export of grain through the Russian-controlled Ukrainian ports.
When Western countries said that Russia was preventing the export of grain from Ukraine, Putin called this a "bluff."
In fact, Russia is deliberately blocking Ukrainian ports and sea routes in the Black Sea for the export of grain from Ukraine, as well as preventing the export by rail by launching missile attacks on elevators and railway infrastructure.
The Kremlin appears to be seeking to provoke famine in African countries, which will lead to a wave of migration to Europe, hoping in this way to put pressure on the European Union. Kremlin officials demanded the lifting of sanctions imposed on Russia in response to the war in Ukraine in exchange for unblocking Ukrainian ports.