Grain field
Ukraine will resume grain exports only when its own security is ensured, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Alexey Danilov said on Tuesday as the Russian military offensive continues in his country.

Comment: Since the Russian demand to pay for energy in rubles is deemed blackmail by unwilling European governments, will this move by Ukraine also be deemed blackmail? Unlikely.

Speaking on national TV, Danilov recalled a statement by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs "which clearly said that the first issue is security, the second issue is security, the third issue is security."

"If this issue is not resolved, and the security of our country is not ensured, no grain will go anywhere. Because for us the issue of security is the number one priority," Danilov stated, without specifying what exactly he meant by the term "security."

At the same time, he claimed that "this issue is under control" and made clear that the Ukrainian authorities remember their obligations.

"Nobody wants the world to be hungry," he stressed.

Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of impeding grain exports. Kiev and its Western supporters claim that, by blocking Ukraine's Black Sea ports, Russia is aggravating the global food crisis. Moscow has rejected such claims, saying it is ready to ensure safe passage for grain-carrying vessels and that the disruption stems from extensive mining of the shoreline by the Ukrainian military.

Danilov accused Russia of "artificially creating" obstacles for its own benefit, of shifting responsibility and "blackmailing" Europe.

Comment: Ahh, so it is Russian blackmail. Of course.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Ukraine and the West are trying to portray a "minor issue" with Ukrainian grain as a "universal catastrophe." He also claimed that the Ukrainian authorities, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, have shown unwillingness to start the process of unblocking the ports. Lavrov stressed that if Kiev is now ready to clear the shoreline of mines, Russia would be happy to cooperate and is even ready to provide written guarantees that it "will not use this situation in the interests of the ongoing special military operation."

Comment: He added:
Speaking after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara, Lavrov said he and Mevlut Cavusoglu paid "much attention" to the problem of Ukrainian grain stuck in Black Sea ports. However, the diplomat noted that "the share of this Ukrainian grain in question is less than 1% of the global production of wheat and other cereals."

"Therefore, the current situation with Ukrainian grain has nothing to do with the food crisis," Lavrov concluded.

He thanked Ankara for its willingness to help ensure that "several dozen" foreign ships carrying grain can leave Black Sea ports, where they are now "being used as hostages" by the Ukrainian side.

Russia attacked its neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine's failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow's eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.