MOSCOW – Russia on Thursday said there would be no extension of the UN-brokered Black Sea grain deal beyond May 18 unless the West removed a series of obstacles to the export of Russian grain and fertilizer.
The Ukraine grain Black Sea export deal was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July last year to help alleviate a global food crisis worsened by conflict disrupting exports from two of the world’s leading grain suppliers.
“Without progress on solving five systemic problems … there is no need to talk about the further extension of the Black Sea initiative after May 18,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.
“We note that, despite all the high-sounding statements about global food security and assistance to countries in need, the Black Sea Initiative both served and continues to serve exclusively commercial exports of Kyiv in the interests of Western countries,” the ministry said.
To help persuade Russia to allow Ukraine to resume its Black Sea grain exports last year, a separate three-year agreement was also struck in July in which the United Nations agreed to help Russia with its food and fertilizer exports.
Russia said the two agreements were “interconnected parts of one ‘package’”, and scolded the UN Secretariat for what it said was a distortion of the facts.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said “discussions, communications are still going on with the parties” and that UN officials were determined to ensure the implementation of both deals.
He said in relation to Russia‘s exports “there’s still a lot of critical issues that need to be resolved over payments and other technical issues” that UN officials were trying to fix.
But he noted that “there’s been some concrete results that contribute to larger grain trade volumes, lower freight rates and an increased number of ships that have called at Russian ports for fertilizer and lowering in insurance.”
“So we’ve made some progress, but we…
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