White House won’t lift sanctions despite Russian pressure amid looming food crisis

White House won’t lift sanctions despite Russian pressure amid looming food crisis

The White House said on Thursday it won’t yield to Russian calls to lift sanctions over the war in Ukraine, as the Kremlin seeks to shift blame for a looming global food crisis.

Russian President Vladimir Putin pressed world leaders on Thursday to lift the sanctions, claiming the West’s penalties are blocking the export of millions of tons of grain and other agricultural products.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the U.S. will not budge.

“This is Russia’s doing,” she said. “Sanctions from the United States and its allies and partners are not preventing the export of Ukrainian or Russian agriculture including food and fertilizer, nor are they preventing the ordinary transactions that are necessary for these transactions.”

Ukraine and Russia are among the world’s top producers of wheat, corn, and sunflower oil. Russia has mined many of Ukraine’s ports, blocking the export of critical food supplies.

“This is Russia who is actively blocking exports from Ukrainian ports and who is increasing world hunger,” she said.

Analysts fear the blockade has put the world on the brink of a food security crisis.

The Kremlin also has argued that U.S. sanctions have hampered its own ability to export agricultural products. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has dismissed the Kremlin’s talking points, noting that food, fertilizer, and seeds are not subject to U.S. sanctions.

Ms. Jean-Pierre said the solution to the crisis is in Russia’s hands.

“This is on them,” she said. “Russia should immediately cease its war on Ukraine which is devastating food security and allow the free flow of Ukrainian food.”

This article is based in part on wire-service reports.