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12 Dec, 2022 11:55

Russia proposes next step for grain deal

The accord should be revised to better help developing nations, a deputy foreign minister has said
Russia proposes next step for grain deal

The Türkiye- and UN-brokered grain deal with Ukraine should be adjusted, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin said on Monday, noting that the bulk of Ukrainian grain shipments have not been reaching the poorest countries.

Speaking to reporters after meeting with his Turkish counterpart Sedat Enal in Istanbul and inspecting the work of the Joint Coordination Center established as part of the agreement, Vershinin described a revision of the grain deal as “a very important issue.” 

“We believe that adjustments are required,” he said, adding that the original goal of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was to “help the poorest countries.” 

Vershinin noted that Ukrainian grain is currently going not to these nations, but “primarily to quite developed and well-off countries.” Accordingly, he noted that the deal was signed “under the slogan of ensuring food security, first of all, in the poorest countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.” 

The official went on to say that there has been some headway on the matter of facilitating Russian agricultural exports. He noted, however, that any further progress should “involve unfreezing and releasing” Russian food products, which are primarily stuck in Latvia.

“We will welcome any steps aimed at helping the poorest countries. After all, the supply of Russian fertilizers will be instrumental for a good harvest next year,” the diplomat added.

Russian officials have repeatedly voiced concerns that the grain deal is not meeting its stated goals, because food goods supposedly intended for poorer nations often end up going elsewhere.

The grain deal, which was signed in July and brokered by the UN and Türkiye, aimed to unlock agricultural exports via the Black Sea from Russia and Ukraine. However, Moscow has repeatedly said that the provision on lifting the restrictions on Russian agricultural exports is not being fulfilled.

In late October, Russia suspended its participation in the agreement for a short time after Kiev launched drone attacks on ships involved in securing safe passage for agricultural cargo. Moscow ultimately returned to the accord after receiving security guarantees from Ukraine. Last month, Russia allowed “a technical prolongation” of the deal.