RUSSIA – Russia is adamant about not stretching the Black Sea Grains Deal further and is willing to send free grain to African countries if those conditions remain unmet, said President Vladimir Putin.

Russia has been insistent about not renewing its support for the black sea deal if blockages on its agricultural exports persist.

According to Russian authorities, while Western sanctions did not explicitly target the Russian agricultural sector, restrictions on logistics, the payment system, and insurance represent obstacles to shipments of fertilizers and cereals. 

Russia’s ambassador to the U.N., Vassily Nebenzia, said that the U.N. has to recognize it has “no leverage to exempt Russian agricultural export operations from Western sanctions” and its efforts have not produced results.

While the recent  60-day extension offers temporary relief for the beneficiaries of the black sea deal, a report by Reuters provides that the UN and Turkey have been facilitating further talks to see to a longer extension. 

If we nevertheless decide not to renew this deal after 60 days, then we are ready to deliver all the volume that was sent to the countries in Africa, in particular in need, during the previous period from Russia to these countries free of charge,” the president of the Russian Federation said.

He also claimed that the Ukraine grain export deal had transformed from a humanitarian initiative to help developing countries facing escalating food prices to a commercial operation benefiting the world’s four leading Western agro-business corporations.

If Brussels, Washington, and London are genuinely interested to continue the export of food from Ukraine through the maritime humanitarian corridor, then they have two months to exempt from their sanctions the entire chain of operations which accompany the Russian agricultural sector,” the Russian envoy said.

However, according to U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Russia’s food exports are at least as high as their pre-war levels. 

“When we hear the Russian government says they are being held back from exporting grain, from exporting fertilizer, the numbers show it’s just not true.”

 Linda added that “we have gone to extraordinary lengths to communicate the clear carveouts for food and fertilizer to governments and the private sector… Simply put, sanctions are not the issue”. 

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