Russia sets terms for reviving grain deal

2023-09-12 08:11:13China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Russia will return to the Black Sea grain deal "the same day" if Moscow's conditions for export of its own grain and fertilizers to the global market are met, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Sunday.

Russia quit the deal in July, a year after it was brokered by the United Nations and Turkiye, complaining its own food and fertilizer exports faced obstacles and that insufficient Ukrainian grain was going to countries in need.

"When all the necessary actions for removing obstacles for our grain and fertilizer exports are implemented, the same day we will return to the collective implementation of the Ukrainian part of the 'Black Sea initiative'," Lavrov told a briefing after attending the two-day G20 summit in New Delhi.

The G20 declaration on Saturday called for "full, timely and effective implementation to ensure the immediate and unimpeded deliveries of grain, foodstuffs, and fertilizers/inputs" from Russia and Ukraine to meet demand in developing countries.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that a letter from the UN on Friday showed a Russian Agricultural Bank subsidiary in Luxembourg could immediately apply to SWIFT to "effectively enable access" for the bank to the international payments system within 30 days.

In the letter, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres outlined four measures that the UN could facilitate to improve Russia's grain and fertilizer exports in a bid to convince Moscow to return to the deal that had allowed the safe Black Sea export of Ukrainian grain.

Lavrov, however, said no one, including the UN secretary-general, has promised the Russian Agricultural Bank would be reconnected to SWIFT. The bank's Luxembourg branch has no license for banking operations, and it plans to close down, he said.

"All the idea of his letter is that we should resume the Ukraine part of the grain deal and in return, in a month, something would be done for someone to be connected to SWIFT, in two-three months there would be some attempt to agree with Lloyd's insurance company," Lavrov said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that any initiative to revive the Black Sea grain deal that isolates Russia is not likely to be sustainable.

On the front lines, Russia launched nearly three dozen drones at Kyiv early on Sunday, with blasts ringing out across the Ukrainian capital and the surrounding region for around two hours and debris falling across several city districts, Ukrainian officials said.

There was no immediate comment from Russia about the attacks, but the Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday its air defense systems destroyed two Ukrainian drones over the Belgorod region.

In a separate development on Monday, Moscow and Pyongyang confirmed that Kim Jong-un, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, will visit Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin, according to The Associated Press.

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