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2 Aug, 2023 05:37

Russia reminds West of conditions to resume grain deal

Moscow has pressed Kiev’s Western backers to drop restrictions on Russian exports
Russia reminds West of conditions to resume grain deal

Russia has said it is prepared to “immediately” resume the defunct Black Sea grain deal, but insisted it would only do so after its conditions are met. Brokered by the UN and Türkiye last year, the agreement allowed agricultural goods to continue flowing through Ukrainian ports.

Speaking after Washington’s United Nations envoy, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, claimed that the Russian government might be “interested in returning to discussions” about the grain deal earlier on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov clarified the Russian stance in comments to Sputnik.

“Moscow is ready to immediately return to the grain deal. But this will take place only after the conditions concerning Russia are fulfilled,” he told the outlet on Tuesday. 

The Kremlin outlined the circumstances under which it would return to the grain deal on multiple occasions in recent weeks, with Russia’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, citing several distinct conditions. These include lifting Western sanctions on Russian grain and fertilizer exports, reconnecting Russian financial institutions to the SWIFT payment system, and ending restrictions on Russian imports of spare parts for agricultural machinery.

Polyansky also insisted the grain deal “must recover its initial humanitarian nature” and help to alleviate food scarcity in developing nations, rather than making rich countries even more wealthy.

Yury Ushakov, the foreign policy adviser for Russian President Vladimir Putin, has also expressed willingness to continue the deal. Not long after the agreement was voided by Moscow in mid-July, the adviser argued that the pact “is not fully done for, but simply suspended, because the Russian part of this package decision was not implemented.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin also explained that the grain deal is still technically in effect, but noted that the Western sanctions relief mandated under the arrangement had not come to fruition. “We have been receiving promises for an entire year,” he said regarding the economic penalties.

Mediated with help from the UN and Ankara, the agreement was established in July 2022, creating a humanitarian corridor through the Black Sea to allow grain and fertilizer shipments to leave Ukraine’s ports. Moscow repeatedly complained about its unmet conditions before allowing the deal to expire on July 18, also insisting that Kiev had exploited the safe corridor to launch military attacks on Russia.