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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Sees Little Hope of Getting U.S.Food Aid

Russia has little hope that the United States will grant it 5 million metric tons of food aid that it asked for last year, the deputy prime minister in charge of agriculture said at a news briefing Friday.

"If America sees a way of donating Russia the big aid package, then Russia will not turn it down," Vladimir Shcherbak said.

"But I think it is rather problematic at the moment, so our regions should be prepared to work out their deficit problems themselves," he added. Russia asked the United States last year for a food-aid package of around 5 million tons, on top of 3 million tons granted in late 1998, which is still being delivered.

U.S. authorities did not make an immediate response to the request, but in December they agreed to give Russia an interim donation of around 500,000 tons of foodstuffs.

Russia has not yet officially accepted the smaller package, but a source at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow said recently he thought it would, and details of its delivery and distribution were being negotiated.

"The issue of these 500,000 tons is being examined and I think it will be solved," Shcherbak said.

Some analysts believe Russia can get by without additional food aid this year.

"The level of food stocks on Jan. 1, 2000, and the anticipated output of agricultural produce and foods show that we can expect stable food supplies in 2000, sufficient to cover the existing level of consumer demand," Shcherbak said.

"But this level is very low as the income of the population is low," he added.

In late 1998, Russia asked for and got food aid from the U.S. and the European Union worth $1.5 billion, following two poor harvests and the 1998 economic crisis.