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8 Sep, 2023 20:51

Russian bank could return to SWIFT in a month – media

The UN has informed Moscow a subsidiary of its agricultural bank might apply for reinstatement “immediately,” Reuters has reported
Russian bank could return to SWIFT in a month – media

Russia’s key agricultural lender, Rosselkhozbank, might get access to the SWIFT international banking system as early as this month, Reuters reported on Friday, citing a UN letter dating back to late August. The measure is touted as an incentive for Moscow to return to the Black Sea grain deal suspended in July, the news agency added.

Rosselkhozbank will be able to access international banking transactions through its subsidiary in Luxembourg, which will act as an intermediary between the Russian lender and foreign banks, Reuters said, citing a letter by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The Luxembourg subsidiary, RSHB Capital SA, might apply to SWIFT to “effectively enable access” for the bank to its system “immediately,” Guterres reportedly told Lavrov in a missive dated August 28. “SWIFT has confirmed that RSHB Capital SA would be eligible to apply for membership and access to SWIFT for food and fertilizer transactions, based on its current status as an issuer of debt securities,” the secretary general has said.

“SWIFT has already confirmed that an expedited application process could be possible, bringing the time for effective access within 30 days,” Guterres added. The Belgium-based financial telecommunications company has not made any official statements on the issue so far.

Other proposals listed in the UN letter reportedly included a UN co-sponsored insurance facility for Russian food and fertilizer exports. The facility, created jointly with Lloyd’s of London insurance company, could be “ready for operationalization within four to six weeks,” the UN head said.

Lloyd’s CEO John Neal told Reuters that his company was in talks with the UN over providing insurance for Ukrainian grain shipments as part of the grain deal.

The international body also vowed to continue working on unfreezing Russian assets in the EU linked to agriculture and fertilizer trade, but said that Russian companies would still have to apply to the national authorities of the EU member states for exemptions from sanctions.

Earlier this week, Moscow expressed its skepticism over the UN proposals, calling them yet another batch of empty promises. Russia saw nothing new in these new suggestions, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that no similar initiatives had been put into practice before.

“Instead of actual exemptions from sanctions, all Russia got was a new dose of promises from the UN Secretariat,” the ministry’s statement read. “These recent proposals do not contain any new elements and cannot serve as a foundation for making any tangible progress in terms of bringing our agricultural exports back to normal,” it added.

Russia suspended its participation in 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 amid the conflict between Moscow and Kiev. It was also expected to help lift Western sanctions that deterred Russia’s agricultural exports.

Moscow repeatedly pointed to the fact that the part of the deal linked to facilitating Russian exports and lifting the sanctions on relevant companies was unfulfilled.