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Russia demands full implementation of Black Sea grain deal

April 27, 2023 at 4:16 pm

The spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation Maria Zakharova makes a speech during a press briefing held by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (not seen) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United Nations on April 25, 2023 [Selçuk Acar – Anadolu Agency]

Only its full implementation can save the Black Sea grain deal from collapse, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, reaffirming Moscow’s dissatisfaction with an accord that aims to prevent a global food crisis, Reuters reports.

The deal, brokered by the United Nations and Turkiye last July, allows Ukrainian grain trapped by the conflict to be safely exported from the country’s Black Sea ports.

But Russia has repeatedly said it will not allow the deal to be extended beyond 18 May, unless the West removes obstacles to Russian grain and fertiliser exports.

“(The deal) is not a buffet you can pick and choose from,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, told a regular news conference in Moscow, adding that implementation of the deal, so far, had been unsatisfactory.

Russia and Ukraine are major grain producers, but Moscow says parts of the deal that are meant to allow it to export its own agricultural goods via the Black Sea are not being honoured.

Although Russia’s agricultural exports have not been explicitly targeted by Western sanctions, Moscow says restrictions on its payments, logistics and insurance industries – imposed over its military actions in Ukraine – have created a barrier to the export of its grains and fertilisers.

One of Russia’s main demands in negotiations is the reconnection of the Russian Agricultural Bank (Rosselkhozbank) to the SWIFT payments system.

READ: Ukraine faces grain export problems despite resumption of ship inspections