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7 Nov, 2022 07:22

Russia sets grain deal deadline for UN

Progress on the export of Russian grain needs to happen before November 18, a senior diplomat says
Russia sets grain deal deadline for UN

Russia considers the expiration date of the Ukraine grain deal a “natural deadline” for the UN to show progress in delivering on its commitments to Russia to unblock its agricultural exports, a senior Russian diplomat told a newspaper.

“The UN tells us that the result is imminent,” Dmitry Polyansky, Russian deputy representative to the UN, was quoted as saying on Monday by Izvestia. “Our decision [on whether to prolong the Ukraine grain scheme] will take into account the fulfilment of the Russian part of the deal.”

The diplomat was referring to an agreement between Russia and Ukraine, brokered by Türkiye and the UN and signed in July, which allowed Kiev to export its crops via the Black Sea. The UN pledged to encourage the US and its allies lift restrictions, which Moscow says hamper its own export of food and fertilizers. Russian merchants have only limited access to banking and maritime insurance due to Western sanctions.

The part of the deal that describes Ukrainian grain exports has a 120-day term, which ends on November 18. Russia has not committed to prolonging the pact, and its officials previously criticized various parts of the arrangement, including the UN’s failure to deliver on its pledge.

In late October, the Russian Defense Ministry announced it was suspending its participation in the scheme after what it described as a UK-backed Ukrainian drone attack on the port of Sevastopol. The Russian military claimed the operation used a security corridor designated for food transport to cover up the strike.

Days later, the suspension was reversed. The Russian ministry said Ukraine had made written pledges not to use the grain export scheme for military purposes. Kiev has denied taking on any additional obligations.

An anonymous source cited by Izvestia said that as of early November Moscow has not received “guarantees of free access to the world grain market”, describing the UN’s failure to free up Russian exports as “a personal dishonor” to Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Last week, the UN leader hailed the grain deal as a major success and said it was essential to preserve it.

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