Lifting sanctions against Russia to move Ukrainian grain exports not an option: Ukraine PM
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal says the West must not give in to Russian pressure to ease sanctions in order to restart the flow of agricultural exports.
Russia has proposed to lift its months-long occupation of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to restore regular movement of grain and other products, such as corn and barley – items poorer countries in northern Africa, Asia and the Middle East depend on.
Shmyhal told CTV News Channel’s Power Play that doing so would only help fuel Russian’s war in Ukraine.
“While the war in Ukraine is continuing, it’s impossible to stop the sanctions because sanctions stop fulfilling the Russian budget, from which they’re financing terrorism and war atrocities here,” he alleged during the interview on Thursday.
Instead, Shmyhal is calling on the United Nations to create protected corridors in the Black Sea to get product out.
There is approximately 22 million tonnes of grain sitting in silos in Ukraine and time is running out to ship it before the country’s new harvest is ready. Since Feb. 24, the country has had to rely on less efficient land transportation to move its agriculture produce.
Weeks ago, the Canadian government said they were prepared to send ships to Romanian ports to help export Ukraine's wheat.
“We are on this. We are in solution mode and it's Canada's contribution to making sure that we participate in this great mission of freeing the Ukrainian wheat,” Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly told reporters after meetings with her G7 and EU counterparts in Germany and Belgium on May 16.
Her remarks followed International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan’s warning that Russia is deliberately withholding exports so it can falsely blame western countries for creating a global food crisis.
Shmyhal was also asked whether Ukraine should concede territory to the Russians in an attempt to resolve the war, as some world leaders have recommended.
“It’s impossible for our nation to trade with Russia and to say, take some territories but don’t touch us. They have another reason, they’re interested not in the territory, they’re interested in killing Ukrainians,” he said.
“We will fight, we will in, and our glory will be in [the] moment when the last Russians leave our territory.”
With files from The Canadian Press & Reuters.
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