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West still has time to solve grain deal issues - Russia diplomat

April 14, 2023 at 4:20 pm

Mikhail Ulyanov on May 7, 2021 [Aşkın Kıyağan/Anadolu Agency]

The West still has time to remove “obstacles” hindering the implementation of the Black Sea grain deal before a deadline on 18 May, senior Russian diplomat, Mikhail Ulyanov, said on Friday, Reuters reports.

The Black Sea grain export deal was renewed for 60 days last month, but Russia has signalled it may not agree to extend it further, unless the West removes obstacles to the export of Russian grain and fertiliser.

The deal, which created a protected transit corridor to enable exports to resume from three Ukrainian ports, has helped to tackle a global food crisis that UN officials said had been seriously exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“(The deal) needs to be implemented in full, as agreed in Istanbul in July 2022. There is still some time for the West to remove obstacles to the full implementation of the arrangements,” Ulyanov said on the Telegram messaging app.

READ: Russia says it will only renew grain deal if its interests taken into account

Western powers imposed tough sanctions on Russia over its 24 February, 2022, invasion of Ukraine. Its food and fertiliser exports are not sanctioned, but Moscow says restrictions on payments, logistics and insurance are a barrier to shipments.

Moscow has set multiple demands for an extension, including that the Russian Agricultural Bank (Rosselkhozbank) be reconnected to the SWIFT payment system, and that restrictions affecting agricultural machinery and parts are lifted.

When asked, on Wednesday, if any progress had been made on Russia’s demands, UN spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said UN officials were “trying to doggedly move the process forward”.