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2 Sep, 2023 14:21

Grain deal hinges on SWIFT action – Turkish media

The UN has reportedly suggested reconnecting a sanctioned Russian bank to the interbank system, but there are doubts the proposal will bear fruit
Grain deal hinges on SWIFT action – Turkish media

A new UN plan aimed at reviving the Black Sea grain deal includes reconnecting Russian agricultural lender Rosselkhozbank to the SWIFT interbank messaging system, Türkiye’s Anadolu news agency reported on Saturday, citing Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan.

According to the report, the plan also includes unblocking the assets of Russian fertilizer producers which were frozen in the EU. Both proposals were formulated with Turkish mediation and would “constitute a suitable basis for the revival of the deal,” Fidan was cited as saying.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, however, wrote on her Telegram channel that she did not expect the “new” proposals to bear fruit.

The new package of UN proposals on the grain deal implies reconnecting Rosselkhozbank to SWIFT and unfreezing the assets of Russian companies… This was all ‘implied’ before, only it never worked,” she wrote.

Earlier this week, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he had sent a letter to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov complete with “a set of concrete proposals” intended to restart the grain deal. While he did not provide details at the time, he noted that the aim was “to allow for more effective access of Russian food and fertilizers to global markets at adequate prices.” However, a Russian diplomat close to Lavrov told Reuters that “there are no revelations” in Guterres’ letter, and it simply “summed up previous UN ideas, which didn’t fly.

Russia terminated the Black Sea Grain Initiative in mid-July. The deal, brokered by the UN and Türkiye last year, was supposed to facilitate the delivery of Ukrainian grain to world markets during the military conflict with Russia while helping lift Western sanctions that deterred Russia’s agricultural exports. However, Moscow considered the reciprocal part of the deal unfulfilled, despite repeated warnings that it would pull out unless the concessions were implemented.

Ankara has been trying to revive the agreement for weeks, arguing that it could become the basis for a truce or even a peace deal between Moscow and Kiev. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are set to discuss the grain deal further at their meeting in the Russian city of Sochi on September 4.

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