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Lavrov says part of grain deal on Russian exports 'is not being fulfilled at all'

According to the minister, the US and its allies in the West declare that food and fertilizers are exempt from sanctions, but this "position is dishonest"

MOSCOW, March 9. /TASS/. Removing all barriers to the export of Russian grain and fertilizer, which was a requirement of the grain agreement, "is not being fulfilled at all", Russian Foreign Minister by Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday at a press conference that followed talks with Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.

Lavrov recalled that the grain deal includes "two inextricably linked components" - the safe export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea from the ports of Ukraine and the removal of all obstacles to the export of Russian grain and Russian fertilizers.

"The first part is being fulfilled, and we, the Russian Federation, are fulfilling all our obligations in this regard, together with our Turkish partners. The second part is not being fulfilled at all," he said.

Thus, the issue of extending the grain deal is becoming rather complicated, since the part of the agreement associated with removing all obstacles to exports of Russian grain and fertilizers, is not being fulfilled, Lavrov added.

"Concerning the deal - it is a package deal. You can only extend what is already being implemented, and if the package is half completed, then the issue of extending it becomes quite complicated," he said.

According to the minister, the US and its allies in the West declare that food and fertilizers are exempt from sanctions, but this "position is dishonest." "In reality, sanctions prohibit Russian ships carrying grain and fertilizers from entering the relevant ports. The sanctions prevent foreign ships from entering Russian ports to pick up these cargoes. The sanctions prohibit Russian Agricultural Bank from using the SWIFT system," he noted.

Agreements on the export of food from Ukraine were signed on July 22, 2022 in Istanbul to last 120 days. One of the agreements sets out a procedure for exporting grain from the Kiev-controlled ports of Odessa, Chernomorsk, and Yuzhny. Russia, Turkey, and the United Nations established a coordination center to inspect ships carrying grain to prevent weapons smuggling and provocations. Russia and the UN also signed a memorandum in which the UN pledged to work to lift anti-Russian restrictions that hinder the export of agricultural products and fertilizers. The agreement was extended for another 120 days in November and expires on March 18.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on March 2 that the deal wasn't working because the West was sabotaging the agreements' Russia-related clauses. The ministry pointed to 262,000 tons of Russian fertilizer that Russia planned to donate to the poorest countries, but ended up being blocked in the ports of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and the Netherlands. They also pointed out that there are hurdles for shipments of Russian fertilizers and food to the world market. The only shipment that got through was 20,000 tons for Malawi.