Russian Ambassador Antonov on food crisis

Brussels 28.05.2022 Russian ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov on Friday, May 28, said the food crisis, which had been unfolding for the past couple years, worsened due sanctions on Russia by the U.S. and its allies.

“The crisis was further exacerbated due to the introduction by Washington and its satellites of illegitimate sanctions against Russia,” the diplomat said in statement released by the Russian Embassy in Washington. “Despite the references of the U.S. officials to exemptions from the restrictions, which allegedly provide for the opportunity for our country to trade in farm goods, domestic exporters often don’t have a chance to make shipments.”

“They face blocked payments, denials of loans and insurance, problems with booking freight ships, purchase of farm equipment and even seeds,” he went on to say. “In addition, the US continues to increase import taxes on our fertilizers.”

Antonov described such actions as “the utmost hypocrisy” and called the US attempts to blame Russia for the food crisis as absolutely unfounded.

“We urge a halt to shifting the blame,” he continued. “Russia is committed to its export obligations and is ready for negotiations to resolve this most serious problem, including through the UN.”

The diplomat also said that difficulties in the food market have been building up for a long time, at least over the past two years. “They are associated with miscalculations and systemic errors in the macroeconomic policy – primarily financial and foreign trade policies – and energy and food policies of Western countries,” he said. “At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant disruptions of supply chains.”

“Freight costs have almost doubled,” he continued. “Naturally, all this couldn’t not fail but lead to a sharp increase in food prices. Wheat prices increased by a quarter over 2021.”

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is negotiating with Russia and Ukraine to unblock the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea in exchange for the lifting of a number of sanctions that hinder the export of Russian fertilizers. Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Vasily Nebenzya and Permanent Representative of the United States Linda Thomas-Greenfield confirmed that there are talks on resuming the exports of Ukrainian grain and Russian fertilizers to the global market. However, the sides insists that these issues are discussed separately from each other and don’t assume any exchanges.

Lavrov: West declared total war on Russia

Brusels 27.05.2022 The West has declared a total war on Russia and the Russian world, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (pictured) said on Friday, May 27.

“The West has declared a total war on us, on the Russian World. Nobody makes any secret of this,” Lavrov said at a meeting of the Council of the heads of Russia’s constituent territories at the Foreign Ministry.

Lavrov warned that the Western policy of “cancelling” Russia would continue for a long time.

“The culture of cancelling Russia and everything related with our country has reached a point of absurdity. Bans have been imposed on such classics as Tchaikovsky, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Pushkin. Persecution is underway against Russian culture and art workers. In general, one can be certain that this situation will last,” Lavrov said.

“We must realize that it has exposed the West’s real attitude to the beautiful slogans that were put forward 30 years ago after the end of the Cold War, the calls for universal humanitarian values, for building a common European home from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Now we can see the real worth of these fine words,” Lavrov said.

The top diplomat has underlined that Russia would certainly not agree to put up with these policies.

“In this situation there is a great demand for a concrete discussion on how we develop our cooperation, cooperation between our ministry and civil society, including at the level of regions,” he added.

Russia calls U.S.to unfreeze Afghan funds

Brussels 27.05.2022 Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev called for assistance in the earliest possible unfreezing of Afghan assets “illegally” blocked by the United States.

“[It is] necessary to facilitate the earliest possible unfreezing of Afghan assets illegally blocked by US in order to develop social and economic projects in Afghanistan,” the Russian Security Council Secretary said on Friday, May 27, in the city of Dushanbe, Tajikistan, during the fourth round of multilateral consultations on the Afghan issue.

The statesman also spoke in favor of establishing closer coordination in order to develop a unified line on the Afghaninstan direction, intensifying efforts to increase the volume of international humanitarian aid to the society and to organize its delivery to the country.

“On the Afghan track it is important to promote the consolidation of corresponding international efforts, first of all under the aegis of the UN. We believe that the [United Nations] should be the main coordinator in solving the whole range of problems of post-conflict reconstruction of Afghanistan,” Patrushev said.

Russia accuses EU for grain shortage

Brussels 20.05.2022 Russia can export 25 million tonnes of grain via the port of Novorossiysk starting from August 1 and until the end of this year, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said, speaking at UN Security Council meeting on conflicts and food security Thursday,May 19.

According to Nebenzya, Russia “continues to remain a responsible supplier of food and energy.”

“This year, we expect a record high wheat harvest. In this regard, we can offer 25 million tonnes of grain for export from the port of Novorossiysk starting on August 1 and until the end of this year,” the envoy said.

“We can also discuss other procurements, including considering that, between June and December, potential export of fertilizers will stand at least 22 million tonnes. But, if you have no intention to withdraw your sanctions, imposed on your own initiative, then why do you accuse us? Why do the poorest nations and regions have to suffer because of your irresponsible geopolitical games?” the diplomat pointed out, addressing the representatives of Western states.

In the current circumstances, attempts to “groundlessly shift responsibility” for deteriorating food situations in the world to Russia “are not just absurd, they are sacrilegious.”.

Nebenzya said that grain exports from Ukrainian ports have been blocked because of Ukraine’s military actions, and they are not the result of decisions of Russian Federation.

“You claim that we are allegedly blocking the possibility of exporting agricultural products from Ukraine by sea,” he said at a UN Security Council meeting on food security. “However, the truth is that it’s Ukraine, not Russia, that continues to block 75 foreign ships from 17 states in the ports of Nikolayev, Kherson, Chernomorsk, Mariupol, Ochakov, Odessa and Yuzhny, and it was Ukraine that mined the waterways.”

“Given that, how can we talk about grain export?” he said. “And no matter what you say here today, only you can change this situation, gentlemen.”.

Exported Ukrainian grain is not directed to countries in need, but is being loaded in EU storages – possibly as payment for arms shipments, Nebenzya accused.

“A logical question arises: where do these shipments [of Ukrainian grain] go? What do they have to do with ensuring food security in the world?” Nebenzya said. “We have justified suspicion that the grain does not go to aid the starving global South, but is being loaded in European states’ grain storages. As we understand, this is how Ukraine pays for weapons being shipped by the West.”.

EU: VI Russia sanctions package blocked

Brussels 18.05.2022 The sixth package of EU sanctions against Russia has been blocked, European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni said on Wednesday, May 18, in an interview to Rai News 24 TV channel.

“We adopted five packages of sanctions very quickly and unanimously, but the sixth package is still held off for known reasons. I am optimistic about the prospects for finding a compromise,” Gentiloni said.

The Commissioner explained that the Hungarian government does not object to the principle of introducing an energy embargo, but pointed to the difficulties in terms of a certain geographical location and energy supply model.

The permanent representatives of the EU countries (Coreper) have been not able reach an agreement on the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, which includes a draft oil embargo – the European Commission has proposed a ban on imports of crude oil from Russia six months after the sixth package enters into force, and on oil products – from 2023. At the same time, the European Commission proposed to allow Hungary and Slovakia to purchase Russian oil until the end of 2024 in an exemption gesture.

According to sources, the European Commission already had to soften a number of its proposals on the timing, parameters, and possible exceptions to the oil embargo. Hungary opposes the oil embargo, with the support of a number of other countries who believe that the damage from the measure will be catastrophic for Europe.

Russia: G7 and border lines

Brussels 15.05.2022 Russia does not care if G7 states recognise the changes of the new borders, Russian Security Council Deputy Head Dmitry Medvedev said Saturday, May 14, adding that the only thing that matters is the opinion of the people living on these territories.

“Let’s put it mildly: out country doesn’t care about G7’s non-recognition of the new borders; what matters is the genuine will of the people living there. Do not forget the Kosovo precedent, Western friends!” Medvedev said in his Telegram channel.

The G7 decisions are interfering in China’s internal affairs and a continuation of the sanctions war against Russia, Medvedev said.

Peskov denies gas boycott of Finland

Brussels 13.05.2022 Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov called some Finnish media reports about the termination of Russian gas deliveries to Finland “most likely just another fake.”

While conducting a press briefing in Moscow, Peskov recalled that the media mentioned Finland’s stance to join NATO as a reason for a possible rupture on supplies of energy resources and reminded that Russia delivers gas to many NATO countries, including Germany.

“Gazprom supplies gas to various consumers in Europe, including countries that are members of NATO. Gazprom has repeatedly demonstrated its reliability as a company that supplies energy resources to the European continent. Therefore, these reports are most likely just another fake,” the Peskov said.

However Peskov made a reservation, recalling the decree by Russian President Vladimir Putin that prescribed “unfriendly countries” to pay in rubles for Russian energy resources, and added that if Finnish companies do not abide by the new requirements, then “the decree will be implemented.”

“It is necessary to make it clear with Gazprom how it is with the payment regime. Because there is a decree of the president on a new gas payment regime. I do not know the nuances of how Finnish companies pay, when they need to make payments, and whether they carry them according to the new rules,” he said.

Degas: Ukrainian dances from Little Russia

Anna Van DENSKY OPINION 08.05.2022 The National Gallery in London has changed the title of Edgar Degas’s drawing “Russian Dancers” (1899) to “Ukrainian Dancers” after a number of claims by Ukrainians on social media in a sympathetic but totally obscurantist gesture.

In times of the creation of the Degas masterpieces there was no Ukrainian identity, ethnicity or language. The very term “Ukraine” descended from “Ocraine” which means Rimland in Russian. The territories of the modern state of Ukraine were an integral part of the Russian Empire, and those who lived there called themselves “Maloross”, or Little Russians.
Logically, being strictly scientific and correct, the Degas’ ouvre should be named “Maloross Dancers”.
The same way we do not name Romans “Italians”, or Portuguese “Iberians”.

The pastel picture by the famed French Impressionist shows a troupe of young performers sporting hair ribbons in vivid blue and yellow, the national colours of modern Ukraine flag.

A spokesperson for the National Gallery told the Guardian, “The title of this painting has been an ongoing point of discussion for many years and is covered in scholarly literature; however there has been increased focus on it over the past month due to the current situation so therefore we felt it was an appropriate moment to update the painting’s title to better reflect the subject of the painting.”

Lavrov: no timetalbe in Ukraine

Brussels 02.05.2022 Moscow won’t set artificial timetable for its military operations in Ukraine in order to complete it by Victory Day, celebrated in Russia on May 9, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (pictured) said in an interview with Italy’s Mediaset broadcaster.(Image above: illustration).

“Our troops won’t artificially base their activities on a specific date, including Victory Day,” he pointed out in response to a question. “We will solemnly celebrate May 9 the way we always do,” Lavrov added.

According to the top diplomat, the pace of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine first and foremost depends “on the need to mitigate risks for civilians and Russian troops.”

Lavrov underlined that the operation was particularly aimed at ensuring the safety of civilians and making sure that there were no threats from Ukraine to civilians and Russia, “which would be related to offensive weapons and the spread of Nazi ideas that the West is trying to downplay.”

“I have seen reports on NBC, I have read the National Interest magazine. Serious articles have started to appear there that are warning against playing games with Nazis, like it happened in 1935-1938,” the Russian Minister has underlined.

Baltics non-nuclear status in question

Brussels 16.04.2022 Russia is warning of new nuclear deployments in the Baltics if Finland and Sweden join NATO, as the two countries discussing a perspective to becoming part of the military alliance.

Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council and former President of Russia, wrote in a Telegram post on Thursday, April 14, that “there can be no talk of non-nuclear status for the Baltic” if Finland and Sweden join NATO.

The chairman said that should Finland and Sweden join NATO, Moscow would need to “seriously strengthen the grouping of land forces and air defense, deploy significant naval forces in the waters of the Gulf of Finland.”

“In this case, it will no longer be possible to talk about any nuclear-free status of the Baltic — the balance must be restored,” he added, according to CNBC.

Medvedev said that previously “Russia has not taken such measures and was not going to,” according to Reuters.

“If our hand is forced well … take note it wasn’t us who proposed this,” he added.