UN chief ‘under huge pressure’ over Ukraine – Russian FM
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is under huge pressure from the US and its allies over the issue of Ukrainian grain stuck in Black Sea ports, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday in an interview with RT and Sputnik.
“We are blamed for using hunger as a weapon” by the West, Lavrov said, rejecting those accusations as “lying.”
Russian food products and fertilizers might not be directly subject to sweeping restrictions slapped on the country over its military operation in Ukraine, but they still can’t be exported because of “insurance, shipping, our vessels that are supposed to enter foreign ports and foreign vessels that are supposed to enter Russian ports to carry those commodities – that was sanctioned almost right away,” he explained.
And the US and their allies now “want to drag the Secretary General of the UN into their games,” Lavrov said.
In late April, Guterres “got really worried about the food crisis,” believed to be largely caused by the absence of Russian and Ukrainian grain on the market due to the conflict between the neighbors, and came to Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin, the top diplomat reminded.
According to the minister, during those negotiations the UN chief offered Putin “a package deal.” Guterres promised to “make the US lift all the impediments on the path of your [Russian] grain” in exchange for Moscow – together with Turkey and other nations – removing the mines placed by Kiev in the Black Sea to allow Ukrainian grain to leave the ports and reach its customers, he said.
Moscow accepted those terms, and Guterres promoted the deal for the last two months.
Last week, Russian diplomats traveled to Istanbul in Turkey to discuss ways of implementing the UN chief’s plan. “They agreed on some basic principles, in accordance to which the Ukrainian grain would be exported. And when our delegation reminded about the second part of this package deal [regarding Russian grain]… the Ukrainians refused categorically. And the UN delegations – they were modestly keeping silent,” Lavrov revealed.
When Moscow contacted Guterres on this development, the UN chief responded by suggesting to “first deal with the Ukrainian part and then we will deal with the Russian part,” according to the FM.
“But that’s so just wrong, so dishonest for people, who are involved in high-level politics,” Lavrov insisted.
However, he expressed belief that it likely wasn’t Guterres’s choice to behave in such a manner. “The Secretary General is under huge pressure from the US, and the UK, who are sitting in the secretariat around him, holding positions of the deputies. And they have privatized, basically, this structure [the UN] and they use it in their interests, which is sad,” the minister pointed out.
During the interview, Lavrov also responded to Monday’s comments by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who claimed that Moscow “weaponized” economic integration. She also threatened nations seeking closer trade ties with Russia, including China, with harsh consequences.
“It beats every other things that they [the US] used to say. But that’s them agonizing because they have no other explanation for their failures,” the foreign minister insisted.