Russia wants to renew grain deal for just 60 days
Russia on Monday said it was in favor of renewing the agreement on Ukrainian grain exports, which expires on March 18, for 60 days, not 120 as has been the case so far.< /p>
The announcement was made by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Verchinin following talks he held in Geneva, Switzerland, with UN Humanitarian Affairs Officer Martin Griffiths and Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), Rebeca Grynspan.
“The Russian side (…) does not oppose a further extension of the “Black Sea Initiative” after his second term expires on March 18, but only for 60 days,” Vershinin said in a written statement sent to the media after the meeting.
“Our future position will be determined by tangible progress in normalizing our agricultural exports, not in words, but in deeds. This includes bank payments, transport logistics, insurance, the “thaw” of financial activities and the supply of ammonia through the “Togliatti-Odessa” pipeline,” he said.
The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister stressed that the “frank and thorough” discussion with senior UN representatives had “confirmed once again that if commercial exports of Ukrainian products are carried out at a steady pace and bring profits considerable in Kyiv, the restrictions imposed on Russian agricultural exporters are still in place”.
Last week, the head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, described as “complicated” the negotiations aimed at extending this agreement, which allowed the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports despite the invasion of the country.
This so-called Black Sea agreement, signed in July 2022 for 120 days between the UN, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey, has made it possible to limit the serious global food crisis caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. February 24. It was renewed in November for 120 days and has so far exported more than 24 million tonnes of grain from Ukrainian ports, according to the UN.
China is the first recipient of exports made under the agreement, Spain the second and Turkey the third.
Ukraine called last week for international efforts to keep open the Black Sea shipping lanes used to transport its grain, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called at the G20 in early March for Russia to renew the deal.
But Russia, for its part, is not satisfied with another bilateral agreement signed with the UN on Russian fertilizer exports, also signed in July 2022, but which runs for three years.
Moscow complains that its exports of fertilizer, a staple for global agriculture, are de facto blocked despite not falling under the sanctions imposed by Western countries since the beginning of the war.
“The sanctions exemptions for foodstuffs and fertilizers announced by Washington, Brussels and London are essentially inactive,” Verchinin said on Monday.