(Geneva) Russia on Monday offered to extend the agreement on Ukrainian grain exports, which expires on March 18, for only 60 days, an offer criticized by Kyiv which sees it as a questioning of the initial agreement.
“The ‘Black Sea Grain Initiative’ agreement involves at least 120 days of extension, Russia’s position to extend it by only 60 days therefore contradicts the document signed by Turkey and the UN,” he said. tweeted the Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandre Kubrakov, specifying that Kyiv awaited “the official position” of the United Nations and Ankara, as “guarantors of the initiative”.
In New York (United States), Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, assured that “the United Nations remains fully involved in the Black Sea Grain Initiative and to strive to facilitating Russian fertilizer and food exports”.
Shortly after, the UN said in a statement dated from Geneva (Switzerland) that it “takes note” of the Russian proposal and underlined that the UN chief “confirmed that the United Nations would do everything possible to preserve the integrity of the Grain Initiative […] and ensure its continuity.
After discussions in Geneva with the head of UN humanitarian affairs Martin Griffiths and the secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Rebeca Grynspan, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Verchinin declared that Moscow “does not oppose a further extension of the ‘Black Sea Initiative’ after the expiration of its second mandate on March 18, but only for 60 days”.
“Our future position will be determined by tangible progress in normalizing our agricultural exports, not in words but in deeds. This includes bank payments, transport logistics, insurance, the ‘thaw’ of financial activities and the supply of ammonia through the ‘Togliatti-Odessa’ pipeline,” Verchinin said in a statement.
He pointed out that he had “frank and in-depth” discussions in the Swiss city which made it possible to “confirm once again that if commercial exports of Ukrainian products are carried out at a steady pace and bring considerable benefits to Kyiv, the restrictions imposed on Russian agricultural exporters are still in place”.
This so-called Black Sea agreement, signed last July for 120 days between the United Nations, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey, has had the consequence of alleviating the world food crisis caused by the invasion of Ukraine. on February 24, 2022. It was renewed in November for four months and allowed the export of more than 24 million tonnes of grain from Ukrainian ports, according to the UN.
But Russia is not satisfied with another agreement – bilateral – signed last July with the UN on Russian fertilizer exports. It runs for three years.
Moscow complains that its exports of fertilizer, a basic necessity for world agriculture, are de facto blocked, although they do not fall under the sanctions imposed by Western countries since the start of the war.
“The sanctions exemptions for foodstuffs and fertilizers announced by Washington, Brussels and London are essentially inactive”, reaffirmed Mr. Verchinin on Monday.