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Russian foreign minister on Black Sea grain deal: 'We were lied to'

September 24, 2023 at 2:14 pm

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia on May 26, 2023 [Russian Foreign Ministry/Anadolu Agency]

Russia was lied to about the Black Sea grain deal, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday, reports Anadolu Agency.

When asked by Anadolu if he has a response to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ remarks when he said some are questioning if Russia has “any real interest in re-joining the Black Sea Initiative,” Lavrov said he cannot respond to “his mood at that.”

“We were lied to, and the Secretary-General was forced to, was misled,”

he said.

“They (the West) directly said we would ease sanctions to help facilitate the export of Russian fertilizer and grain, they said this directly,” Lavrov told a UN news conference in New York on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly.

“It turns out the Secretary-General will be implementing sanctions, but at the same time to find certain approaches to ensure that the West is merciful and as an exemption to do something somewhere there,” said Lavrov.

“This is not our issue. We set out in great detail to representatives of the United Nations today,” he said.

Lavrov said a Russian deputy has been working with Rebecca Greenspan, the UN’s top trade representative and the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths.

“They will also continue on this matter. They are aware of all of this. We did not make up those proposals which in the initial text were included by the UN Secretariat,” he said.

“They listed all of this, none of that was implemented,” he added. ​​​​​​​

‘Not realistic’

Lavrov said the latest proposals by the UN chief to revive the grain deal as well as the proposed Ukraine peace plan are “not realistic.”

“We don’t reject them. They are simply not realistic,” he said, “It is not possible to implement this. It’s not realistic and everybody understands this but, at the same time, they say this is the only basis for negotiations.”

Russia suspended the grain deal in July because it said parts related to its demands have “not been implemented so far,” referring to the removal of obstacles to fertilizer exports and the inclusion of the state-owned Russian Agricultural Bank in the SWIFT international payment system.

Lavrov said the main reason Russia left the agreement is because “everything that was promised to us turned out to be a lie.”

The agreement was signed in Istanbul in July 2022 by Russia, Ukraine, Türkiye and the UN, creating a safe corridor through the Black Sea for exports from three Ukrainian ports since the war began that February.

It helped rein in spiralling prices and ease a global food crisis by restoring the flow of wheat, sunflower oil, fertilizer and other products from Ukraine — one of the world’s largest grain exporters.

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