MOSCOW, December 1. /TASS/. Allegations by top EU officials that the US-led West’s sanctions do not in any way limit the export of Russian agricultural products are blatantly false, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said speaking at a press conference on European security issues.
"At least a week ago, I heard another statement either by [EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep] Borrell, or someone else from this European institution that the sanctions do not contain any restrictions on the export of Russian fertilizers or Russian grain. But this is an outright lie, because although the heading ‘fertilizers and food from Russia’ is not on the sanctions list, what these headings do contain and what is prohibited is a ban on banking transactions, primarily on our leading bank - Rosselkhozbank [the Russian Agricultural Bank - TASS], which has been cut off from SWIFT. It serves more than 90% of all our food supplies. The sanctions also include a ban on access of our ships to European ports and foreign ships to Russian ports. And the sanctions also apply to ship chartering and ship insurance," Lavrov explained.
The top diplomat recalled that back in March, the Russian military began announcing daily 12-hour periods for the operation of humanitarian corridors to export Ukrainian grain from Ukrainian ports. However, the only obstacle was that these ports were mined.
"Our military would announce these humanitarian corridors and say: 'Ukrainian colleagues, kindly usher out the appropriate vessels through the minefields, and we will guarantee their safe delivery to the entrance of the straits.' [President of Ukraine Vladimir] Zelensky said: "You can't trust the Russians. Then we suggested guaranteeing freedom of passage through neutral waters together with our Turkish colleagues. They agreed. And again, Zelensky was capricious," Lavrov detailed.
UN chief’s assistance
The intervention of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres made it possible to sign two documents. One of them explains in detail what steps and guarantees will apply when exporting Ukrainian food from three Ukrainian ports, and the second document states that the UN Secretary General will try to remove artificial obstacles on fertilizer and grain exports from Russia, the chief diplomat recounted. He added that all this was publicly emphasized by Guterres at the recent G20 summit in Indonesia.
"[UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres] is, to his credit, lifting these barriers [on the export of Russian agricultural products]. <…> But it’s already been five months since this [grain] deal was signed. The reaction by the United States and the European Union is extremely slow, so our UN colleagues will have to literally beat some exemptions out of them every time," Lavrov said.
The Russian top diplomat noted that Moscow supports Guterres’ actions, but simultaneously pointed out that "there is not much respect by the West for his efforts." "This is also typical of the West, showing who’s the boss and who should be chased after, who to plead for," Lavrov added.