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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Stalls on Granting Free Food Aid

The United States will not make a decision on granting Russia food aid under an aid program covering free commodities until early next year, a U.S. Embassy source in Moscow said Wednesday.

"The USDA [United States Department of Agriculture] for budget reasons cannot make any commitments for fiscal year 2000 right now to Russia or any countries in response to their requests for assistance under one of the programs funded by the USDA," the source said.

He added that it would not be clear how much money would be available until January or February. Under the program in question, Russia was granted 1.7 million tons of wheat this year.

Russia has asked for 5 million tons of food aid for next year, and has requested that it all be donated.

Interfax quoted First Deputy Agriculture Minister Anatoly Mikhalyov as saying that the ministry had received a letter from the U.S. Embassy explaining the delay, and as saying that he thought it was a response to the Chechen war.

The embassy source denied that the delay was related to Chechnya.

"It's strictly to do with the USDA in Washington determining how much funding is available to respond to requests from countries asking for free or donated commodities," he said.

The source confirmed that a letter had been sent but said he thought it likely that agriculture ministries in every country that had asked for aid under the same program had received one like it.