MOSCOW, May 20 — Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former president and now senior security official, said Thursday the West should not expect Russia to continue food supplies if it slaps Moscow with devastating sanctions over Ukraine.
“Our country is ready to fulfil its obligations in full. But it also expects assistance from trading partners, including on international platforms,” Medvedev said on messaging app Telegram.
“Otherwise, there’s no logic: On the one hand, insane sanctions are being imposed against us, on the other hand, they are demanding food supplies. Things don’t work like that, we’re not idiots,” said Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council.
“Countries importing our wheat and other food products will have a very difficult time without supplies from Russia. And on European and other fields, without our fertilisers, only juicy weeds will grow,” added Medvedev, who served as president between 2008 and 2012.
“We have every opportunity to ensure that other countries have food, and food crises do not happen. Just don’t interfere with our work.”
Russia and Ukraine alone produce 30 per cent of the global wheat supply.
Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine and a barrage of unprecedented international sanctions on Russia have disrupted supplies of fertiliser, wheat and other commodities from both countries, pushing up prices for food and fuel, especially in developing nations.
The UN has called on Russia to allow exports of Ukrainian grain that is held up in Black Sea ports.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused the Russian military of holding “the food supply” for millions of people around the world hostage.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Thursday reiterated Moscow’s stance that the food crisis was the result of Western sanctions, among other things.
“The record number of restrictions imposed on Russia’s foreign economic potential has been felt by the whole world. Moreover, economically vulnerable countries were the first to be hit,” she said in a statement.
Zakharova said Russia was continuing food supplies in accordance with its commercial agreements and as part of humanitarian assistance.
“Our country is interested in the stable functioning of the world food market,” she said. — AFP