Home Breaking “It’s blackmail” – US Secretary of State openly accuses Russia of stealing...

“It’s blackmail” – US Secretary of State openly accuses Russia of stealing grain


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has raised suspicions that Russia is stealing Ukrainian grain for its own profit. Reports that Russia is seizing Ukrainian grain in order to sell it itself were called “credible” by Blinken in Washington on Monday. He also accused Moscow of trying to “blackmail” the world by blocking Ukrainian grain exports.

The Russian naval blockade of the southern Ukrainian port of Odessa is preventing grain from being shipped from there to its “normal destinations”, said Blinken at a virtual conference by his ministry on the risks to food security arising from the Ukraine war. Around 20 million tons of wheat are “trapped” in silos near Odessa.

Blinken emphasized that this was a strategy of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who wanted to force the rest of the world to “give in” and lift its sanctions against Russia. “In other words, very simply put, it’s blackmail.”

The New York Times reported on Monday that several cargo ships had left Russian-controlled ports with “stolen Ukrainian wheat.” The US government pointed out this process to 14 countries, mostly in Africa, for which the wheat was actually intended.

The Ukrainian ambassador to Turkey on Friday accused Moscow of stealing Ukrainian grain and exporting it primarily to Turkey.

For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned on Monday that the blockade of grain exports could take on much more dramatic proportions in the coming months. The blocked amount of grain intended for export from Ukraine could triple to 75 million tons “by the autumn”, he told journalists in Kyiv. Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine was the world’s fourth largest exporter of wheat and corn.

The United States has accused Russia of “intimidating” the press after summoning US journalists to Moscow’s State Department. At the meeting, the Russian government explained to correspondents the “consequences of its government’s hostile stance on the media,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Monday. “The Kremlin is attacking media freedom, access to information and the truth,” he said.

According to Price, the subpoena was Moscow’s response to the ban on three Russian state broadcasters in the West. However, it is a “false equality” when independent Western journalists are compared to the “Russian government’s propaganda arm”.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has repeatedly accused Washington of “suppressing” Russian media in the United States. “They are doing everything to make the work of Russian media impossible,” she said on Friday.

“If they don’t normalize the work of Russian media on US territory, there will be strong measures as a consequence.” Zakharova emphasized that the appointment at the Moscow Foreign Ministry was not a preliminary, but an “invitation”. Price, in turn, stressed that the US had not revoked any Russian journalists’ work permits and would continue to issue visas to “qualified” journalists.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has sent a special envoy to Berlin to hold talks with the German government about his country’s prospects for EU membership.

The Minister for Regional Development, Oleksij Tschernyschow, wants on Tuesday and Wednesday, among others, the head of the Chancellery Wolfgang Schmidt (SPD), Development Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD), Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) and, in the absence of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens), their Minister of State Tobias Lindner (Green) meet.

Ukraine hopes that the heads of state and government of the European Union will meet them at the summit on 23-24. declare a candidate for EU accession. Shortly before that, the EU Commission will issue a recommendation. While other EU states have already spoken out clearly in favor of candidate status for Ukraine, the German government is still reluctant.

Russia has imposed sanctions on 61 US citizens. The State Department in Moscow announced that members of the US government as well as current and former top managers of US corporations are on the list. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings are among those affected. The measures are a response to the steadily expanding US sanctions against figures in Russia’s politics and public life and against representatives of the Russian business community.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Great Britain in his evening video address. “I am grateful to Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his full understanding of our demands and his willingness to provide Ukraine with the very weapons it so desperately needs to protect the lives of our people.” with a range of up to 80 kilometers to Ukraine. (If you have any questions, please contact our editorial team at berlin.newsroom@thomsonreuters.com)

The FDP opposes a so-called excess profits tax on war-related profits in the mineral oil industry, as discussed by some of its coalition partners, the SPD and the Greens. “What sounds good is in fact a very bad tool,” said Christian Dürr, leader of the FDP parliamentary group, to the “Bild” newspaper. .”An excess profit tax would be an invitation to innovative companies like Biontech, which are currently making good profits and are already paying a decent amount of taxes, to leave our country. Nobody can seriously want that,” argued Dürr. “If we want growth, prosperity and thus increasing tax revenues, then we have to be attractive to modern companies and not drive them away.”

He was “surprised that the Union is now demanding something like this,” said Dürr. Jens Spahn (CDU), the Union parliamentary group leader responsible for the economy, explained in the “Bild am Sonntag” with regard to the temporarily reduced mineral oil tax: “If the oil multinationals put it in their own pockets, you have to make these unjustified extra profits like in Great Britain skimmed off with a tax.”

NEW YORK (AP) – A UN Security Council meeting on the situation in Ukraine has been overshadowed by an uproar. When EU Council President Charles Michel blamed Russia directly for an impending global food crisis on Monday, the Russian ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebensya, demonstratively left the room. He left the Russian seat to another diplomat.

A few weeks ago, at the port of the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa, he saw millions of tons of grain and wheat stuck in containers and ships, Michel previously told Nebensja. The culprits are “Russian warships in the Black Sea and Moscow’s attacks on the transport infrastructure and grain storage facilities. Russian tanks, bombs and mines also prevented cultivation and harvesting in Ukraine.

“This drives up food prices, pushes people into poverty and destabilizes entire regions,” Michel said. “Russia alone is responsible for this looming global food crisis. Russia alone.” Michel also accused the Russian troops of stealing grain from occupied areas in Ukraine. At the same time, Moscow blames others. This is “cowardly” and “propaganda – pure and simple,” explained Michel.

Nebensia got up and left. His deputy, Dmitry Polyansky, wrote on Telegram that Michel’s comments were so “outrageous” that the Russian ambassador left the meeting room.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy firmly expects his country to gain EU candidate status within the next few weeks. “I mean, this will be a decision not only for Ukraine, but for the entire European project,” the head of state said in his daily video message on Monday. That will also decide whether the EU has a future or not, Zelenskyj said.

The EU Commission wants to decide in June how to proceed with the ambitions of the country attacked by Russia. The federal government has not yet taken a position on this issue. However, Chancellor Olaf Scholz made it clear that there should be no shortcuts for Ukraine on the way to the EU. Ukraine sees their fight against Russia as sufficient qualification.

Washington (AP) – As a result of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, US authorities want to confiscate two planes belonging to the oligarch Roman Abramovich. It is a so-called Dreamliner, a Boeing 787-8, and a private jet manufactured by Gulfstream, which together are worth around 400 million US dollars (a good 370 million euros), the Justice Department said on Monday.

An order from the judiciary gives the US authorities the right to confiscate the Russian’s aircraft, it said. The US export controls imposed because of the war, which also affect aircraft mostly manufactured in the USA, serve as a handle for this.

Abramovich’s Boeing is currently in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, the Gulfstream machine is in the Russian capital Moscow, the Ministry of Justice said. It initially seemed at least unclear whether and when the US authorities could get hold of the aircraft. At the same time, it will probably be difficult to use the machines internationally in the future.