Russia is all but out of the Black Sea Grains Agreement Ship’s crew

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By Guy Faulconbridge

MOSCOW, June 30 (Reuters) – Russia said on Friday it sees no reason to extend the Black Sea grain deal beyond July 17 because the West has been so “outrageous” towards the deal, poor countries have assured however, that Russia exports grain would continue.

The United Nations and Turkey mediated this Black Sea Grain Initiative last July to help address a global food crisis exacerbated by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine — an operation Moscow has dubbed a “special military operation” — and the blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports.

The agreement allows export of food and fertilizers from three Ukrainian ports – Chornomorsk, Odessa and Pivdennyi (Yuzhny). The agreement has been extended three times.

“The attitude of the West towards this agreement is outrageous,” Lavrov told reporters, noting in particular the positions of the United States and Britain.

Lavrov said one of the last straws that broke Russia’s camel’s back was an attack on the Togliatti-Odessa ammonia pipeline, which he blamed on Ukraine, which in turn accused Russia of damaging the pipeline.

“I don’t see what arguments those who want to continue the Black Sea Initiative can have,” Lavrov said.

The United Nations said on Friday it was concerned that no new ships had been registered under the Black Sea Agreement since June 26 – although 29 ships had submitted applications – and called on all parties “to commit themselves to the continuation and effective implementation of the agreement.” to oblige”. Without further delay.”

UN spokesman Farhan Haq said only 13 ships are currently either loading in Ukrainian ports or sailing to and from Istanbul.

“The parties must ensure that additional vessels are allowed to navigate the Black Sea Maritime Humanitarian Corridor, which serves as a global lifeline for food security,” Haq said. “The start of the harvest season underscores the urgency.”

FREE GRAIN

Russia and Ukraine are two of the world’s top agricultural producers and major players in the wheat, barley, corn, rapeseed, rapeseed oil, sunflower seed and sunflower oil markets. Russia is also dominant on the fertilizer market.

When the deal fails Russia will continue to export grain, Lavrov said.

“If the Black Sea Initiative stops working, we will offer the poorest countries, at our own expense and free of charge, grain supplies of a comparable or larger volume,” Lavrov said.

According to the United Nations, between 2018 and 2020, Africa imported US$3.7 billion worth of wheat (32% of total African wheat imports) from Russia and US$1.4 billion from Ukraine (12% of total African wheat imports ).

Also, to persuade Russia to agree to the initiative, a three-year pact was signed last July in which the United Nations agreed to help Moscow overcome any obstacles to its own food and fertilizer supplies.

Russia’s specific demands are that the Agricultural Bank of Russia (Rosselkhozbank) be reconnected to the SWIFT payment system, that deliveries of agricultural machinery and parts to Russia be resumed, and that restrictions on insurance and reinsurance be lifted.

Other demands include restarting the Togliatti-Odessa ammonia pipeline, allowing Russia to pump the chemical to Ukraine’s main Black Sea port, and releasing assets and accounts of Russian companies involved in food and fertilizer exports.

Russia says there has been no progress on any of these issues.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, additional reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Grant McCool)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023.

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