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18 Mar, 2023 08:04

Russia issues ultimatum on grain deal

The West should remove all obstacles hindering agricultural exports within 60 days, Moscow’s UN envoy has warned
Russia issues ultimatum on grain deal

Western countries have two months to lift sanctions on Russian agricultural exports if they want to maintain the grain deal with Ukraine, Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, said on Friday.

Speaking at the UN Security Council, Nebenzia explained that while Moscow had agreed to extend the scheme unlocking agricultural exports via the Black Sea, it could continue only if Western countries address concerns voiced by Russia.

Nebenzia recalled that the grain deal not only sought to secure agricultural exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports, but was also meant to promote deliveries of Russian food and fertilizers to the global market. In this regard, the deal “is not being implemented, not in the slightest,” he said.

Moscow has repeatedly demanded that the West lift both “direct and indirect sanctions” on Russian agricultural exports. Those include restrictions related not only to the transfer of goods themselves, but also to the provision of insurance services to Russia and supplying it with relevant technologies and agricultural machinery.

“If Washington, Brussels, and London truly want Ukrainian food exports to continue through the humanitarian sea corridor in their interests, they have two months to exempt the entire chain of operations that service Russian agricultural exports from sanctions, with the help of the United Nations,” the ambassador said.

He also alleged that the grain deal was turning from a humanitarian into a commercial one, with Western agricultural corporations being the main beneficiaries by taking advantage of rising food prices and destabilized food supply chains. At the same time, the poorest countries are receiving only 3% of agricultural deliveries within the grain deal, Nebenzia claimed.

Further steps within the agreement “will depend on what progress is going to be achieved in resolving the problems that we pointed out,” he added.

On Tuesday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced that Moscow agreed to renew the grain deal, which was initially struck last July, for 60 days. Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov described the move as “a gesture of goodwill,” voicing hope that “after such a long time the conditions and obligations that were taken on by the well-known parties will be fulfilled.”

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