Blinken told reporters that Russia’s exports of food have exceeded levels prior to its invasion of Ukraine.
“Having said that, to the extent that there have been any problems with things like shipping and insurance, we have throughout the process of the Black Sea Grant initiative, taken steps to work through them and to address them,” he said.
This included writing comfort letters to banks “to assure them that it was fine to process these transactions and that they wouldn’t run afoul of our sanctions,” Blinken said.
US bank JPMorgan has processed some Russian grain export payments with reassurances from Washington.
The United Nations has argued that the Black Sea deal helped everyone because it brought prices down 23 per cent from a record high in the weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
After Moscow quit the deal, it began targeting Ukrainian ports and grain infrastructure on the Black Sea and Danube River, sending global grain prices soaring. Moscow has said it may resurrect the Black Sea agreement if its demands to improve its own exports of grain and fertiliser are met.
“If all the problems that have been publicly raised by us … are eliminated, we will be ready to once again take part in the Black Sea initiative,” Polyanskiy reiterated.
The European Union has warned developing countries that Russia is offering cheap grain “to create new dependencies by exacerbating economic vulnerabilities and global food insecurity,” according to a letter seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told African leaders last week that Russia was ready to replace Ukrainian grain exports to Africa on both a commercial and aid basis to fulfill what he said was Moscow’s critical role in global food security.
Polyanskiy described the EU warning as “perverted logic,” adding: “Russia has never considered Africa, Asia or Latin America as a space for extracting profits.”