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23 May, 2023 09:23

UN helping Russian bank with SWIFT bypass – official

Transactions with the state-owned Russian Agricultural Bank are possible without the payment system, a spokesman has claimed
UN helping Russian bank with SWIFT bypass – official

The UN continues to work on ensuring that Russia’s requirements in the Black Sea grain deal are implemented, including the removal of obstacles for banking operations involving Russian agricultural exports, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Monday.

According to the official, the organization is aiming to facilitate transactions for Russian state agricultural lender Rosselkhozbank, which was disconnected from the SWIFT payment system as part of Ukraine-related sanctions last year. Dujarric said there is an opportunity for the bank to conduct business without SWIFT.

We will continue to do everything possible to secure [Russian agricultural] exports, including [transactions] through Rosselkhozbank,” Dujarric told reporters at a briefing, as quoted by TASS.

There are opportunities to conduct these transactions outside the SWIFT system. Obviously, it would be easier under SWIFT, but we will continue to engage with all our partners, including the EU, the UK, the US, Russia and others, to ensure supplies. The head of UNCTAD [the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development], Rebeca Greenspan, is extensively working on this,” he added.

The UN official did not specify which possibilities were being considered for Rosselkhozbank to perform transactions outside SWIFT.

Rosselkhozbank’s reconnection to SWIFT is among the conditions Russia has stated for its continued participation in the Black Sea grain initiative. The deal guarantees the safe export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, but is also intended to remove obstacles to Russian agricultural exports.

While Russian exports have not been directly targeted by Western sanctions, restrictions applied to the country’s banks and ships have made it virtually impossible for Russian exporters to conduct international transactions and access insurance brokerage services.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that it may quit the deal unless its terms are honored. However, EU foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano said on Monday that the bloc does not intend to reconnect Rosselkhozbank to SWIFT until the conflict in Ukraine ends.

The grain deal was extended last week for another two months, and is due to expire on July 17.

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