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Kremlin says it needs to see more progress after Black Sea grain deal renewal

May 18, 2023 at 5:08 pm

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov speaks to press members after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual press conference in Moscow, Russia on December 17, 2020 [Sefa Karacan – Anadolu Agency]

The Kremlin, on Thursday, confirmed that Russia had renewed the Black Sea grain deal for two months after achieving some results in talks which had given it “certain hopes”, but said more progress had to be made to advance its own interests, Reuters reports.

Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan, announced the extension in a televised speech on Wednesday and it was later confirmed by Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations.

The United Nations and Turkiye brokered the agreement – which allows Ukraine to export grain from Black Sea ports – for an initial 120 days in July last year to help tackle a global food crisis that has been aggravated by Russia’s war in Ukraine, something it calls “a special military operation”.

Moscow had initially appeared unwilling to extend the pact unless a list of demands regarding its own agricultural exports was met.

READ: Russia confirms Black Sea grain deal renewed for two months, says distortions remain

Commenting on the deal’s renewal, Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said what he called a “qualified result” for Russia had been achieved in negotiations over easing restrictions on Russian agricultural exports.

In a call with reporters, he said that different scenarios were being worked out regarding easing international payment transfer curbs on Russia’s state agricultural bank, one of Moscow’s key demands.

“Regarding guarantees for Rosselkhozbank – various options are being explored that would be equivalent to reversing its exclusion from the SWIFT payment system,” he said.

“There are certain hopes based on the negotiations that have taken place so far.”

Rosselkhozbank, on Thursday, said the grain deal had nothing to do with a jump in its first-quarter profit as the bank practically does not conduct international settlements currently due to the SWIFT block.

Peskov indicated that Moscow wanted to see more progress in the next two months.

“It is very important to understand that the fate of the deal is still in the hands of those with whom the UN must agree on the Russian part of the deal,” said Peskov.

“A certain part of the way has been travelled – there are results – but not definitive ones. We will try to solve this problem definitively within these 60 days.”

He added that talks on the export of ammonia from a Russian city to a Ukrainian port via a pipeline were ongoing.

READ: China backs ‘effective’ implementation of Black Sea grain deal