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No extension of grain deal without resolving systemic problems — Russian Foreign Ministry

Among the issues the ministry mentioned reconnecting the Russian Agricultural Bank to SWIFT and resuming supplies of agricultural equipment, spare parts and services

MOSCOW, April 13. /TASS/. Russia confirms its stance that without progress on resolving five systemic issues there can be no talk of the further extension of the grain deal after May 18, a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry published on Thursday said.

"Russia reaffirms its position that there can be no discussion of the Black Sea Grain Initiative after May 18 without any progress regarding the five systematic problems (reconnecting Rosselkhozbank to SWIFT; resuming supplies of agricultural machinery, spare parts and maintenance service; lifting restrictions on insurance and reinsurance, plus unblocking access to ports; restoring the work of the Tolyatti-Odessa ammonia pipeline; and unblocking foreign assets and accounts of Russian companies related to the production and transportation of food and fertilisers)," the ministry’s statement said.

The foreign ministry noted a press release of the UN Secretariat on the Black Sea Initiative on exporting Ukrainian food products which "once again distorts data and facts." The UN statement for the media was triggered by the failure to carry out inspections within the framework of the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) in Istanbul for the first time ever since the grain deal was launched. "It must be noted that neither Kiev’s continued blocking of ammonia supplies, also prescribed in the agreements, nor the lack of any progress in the implementation of the Russia-UN Memorandum has ever caused the UN Secretariat to make a public response," the Russian diplomatic agency pointed out.

The ministry noted that currently 28 vessels with over 1 mln tons of food products within the framework of the grain deal are awaiting inspections in Turkey’s territorial waters. "However, the UN staff at the JCC, which is responsible for the inspection plan, has refused to draw up such a schedule, trying to support the Ukrainians’ demands for the registration of ships engaged in the initiative," it explained.

The Russian Foreign Ministry noted that "despite all the grandiloquent statements made about global food security and assistance to countries in need" the grain deal "has served Kiev’s commercial exports exclusively in the interests of Western countries." "The UN World Food Programme’s share of humanitarian deliveries (543,928 tonnes) looks ludicrous compared with the total volume of food exports (27.7 million tonnes). But Kiev is trying to use even these deliveries for political purposes, such as advertising its Grain from Ukraine pseudo-humanitarian campaign," the statement emphasized.

"The removal of obstacles to Russian agricultural exports was supposed to take place as part of the Russia-UN Memorandum, which the UN did not even mention this time. Such silence is not only a clear indicator of the UN Secretariat’s attitude to the package [UN Secretary-General] Antonio Guterres proposed, but also of the absence of any practical results regarding the Memorandum," the agency concluded.