RUSSIA – Russia’s deputy foreign minister remarked that even if the Black Sea Grain Initiative ends, Russia’s agreement with the United Nations to ease its own exports will stay in force, according to Russian state news agency RIA.
While Moscow has repeatedly agreed to extend the Black Sea grain deal, the grain exporter said it sees little chance of agreeing to an extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative beyond July 18, citing the Western sanctions that are thwarting its own U.N.-backed attempts to export both grain and fertilizer.
When asked by RIA if the collapse of the grain deal would render its memorandum with the U.N. invalid, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said: “No, it will not.”
After invading leading grain exporter Ukraine last year, Russia blockaded its Black Sea ports, contributing to a global surge in food prices and increasing food insecurity.
Last July, in a bid to help persuade Russia to allow grain ships safe passage under the Black Sea initiative, the UN struck a separate three-year agreement to help Russia with its food and fertilizer exports.
However, Moscow has repeatedly complained that Western sanctions imposed in response to the invasion continue to create financial, logistical, and insurance obstacles to its shipments in spite of the deal agreed upon by the UN.
Russia has been extending the grain deal grudgingly, two months at a time, despite failing to secure concessions on six specific demands, but has begun signaling that its patience is now at an end.
“If Western countries are interested in ensuring food security, they should really take the path of lifting any restrictions and illegal sanctions regarding Russian grain and fertilizers,” Grushko was quoted as saying.
Earlier this month, Moscow stipulated that it wanted Ukraine to open a pipeline from the Russian city of Togliatti to the Ukrainian port of Odesa which it used before the war to ship ammonia to its global customers.
Unfortunately, two weeks ago a section of the Togliatti-Odesa pipeline was blown up near the front line of fighting, putting an end to Russia’s demands that Kyiv allow it to be reactivated.