June 19 (Reuters) – Russia’s deputy foreign minister said on Monday that Russia’s deal with the United Nations to facilitate its own exports will remain in effect even if a deal allowing Ukrainian grain to be transported across the Black Sea ends, the agency said state Russian news agency RIA reported on Monday.
Moscow has repeatedly said it sees little chance of agreeing to an extension of the Black Sea Grains Initiative beyond July 18, claiming that Western sanctions are thwarting its own UN-backed attempts to harvest both grain and fertilizer export, frustrate.
Asked by the RIA whether the failure of the grain deal would invalidate its memorandum with the United Nations, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko replied, “No, it won’t.”
After invading leading grain exporter Ukraine last year, Russia blocked its Black Sea ports, contributing to a rise in global food prices.
Also, to persuade Russia to allow grain ships safe passage as part of the Black Sea Initiative last July, a separate three-year deal was struck in which the United Nations agreed to help Russia with its food and fertilizer exports.
But Moscow has repeatedly complained that Western sanctions imposed in response to the invasion continue to create financial, logistical and insurance barriers to its supplies.
It has reluctantly extended the grain deal by two months at a time, despite failing to secure concessions on six specific demands, but has begun to signal that its patience is now running out.
“If Western countries are interested in ensuring food security, they should really go down the path of lifting all restrictions and illegal sanctions on Russian grain and fertilizers,” Grushko was quoted as saying.
Two weeks ago, near the front line, a section of the Tolyatti-Odessa pipeline was blown up, which before the war had transported Russian ammonia, a key ingredient in the manufacture of some fertilizers, to Ukraine for further export.
This put an end to Russia’s demands that Kiev allow its reactivation.
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Jan Harvey)
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