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Kiev striving to make most out of grain deal, demanding bribes from ship owners — MFA

As Maria Zakharova noted, the owners of incoming ships who refused to pay a bribe are forced to wait for registration for many months

MOSCOW, April 19. /TASS/. The Kiev regime is seeking to exploit the Black Sea initiative with might and main, not shunning either the abuse of the rules of procedure or demands for bribes from shipowners. This is stated in the comments by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, which was released on Wednesday.

"Currently, the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul is indeed experiencing difficulties with registering new vessels and conducting inspections. They arise solely as a result of actions by Ukrainian representatives as well as UN officials who are apparently unwilling or unable to stand up to them," she pointed out.

"Having finally discarded not only humanitarian considerations, but even elementary human decency, they (the Kiev regime - TASS) are striving to make the most out of the Black Sea Initiative stooping to anything from outright abuse of the rules of procedure to demanding bribes from the ship owners, doing all of the above for the sake of maximizing commercial profits," the diplomat added.

As Zakharova noted, the owners of incoming ships who refused to pay a bribe are forced to wait for registration for many months.

"Outgoing dry cargo ships that have paid also have to wait for the inspection, because once they receive the money the Ukrainians lose interest in them. This situation stems from the fact that in line with the current practices (importantly, not the rules of procedure), the process for obtaining applications for registration under the Black Sea Initiative is in the hands of the Ukrainians, while the UN is in charge of the inspection plans (for the entry and exit of ships)," she went on.

Under these circumstances, the registration of ships, which Russian experts carry out strictly within the approved rules of procedure and their respective powers, is the only way to restore order to some extent and to build a fair and transparent basis for participating in the initiative, the diplomat stressed.

"However, our proposal to add to the registration lists the ships which will then sail to the countries in need, in particular Africa, as well as those that have been waiting in line for more than one month, was met with hostility by Ukrainian representatives. Kiev was not ready to jeopardize its commercial corruption schemes. As a result, the Ukrainians first blocked the registration process having disagreed with our proposals, and then suspended all inspections, including inspections of outgoing ships (27 ships with 1.2 million tons of cargo on board). It is clear what they are banking on: launching a propaganda machine and playing the food card with the help of Westerners and the UN," she noted.

West’s reaction

As the diplomat pointed out, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, and then US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that Russia allegedly broke its promises to the countries in need of grain and blocked 50 ships in the Black Sea.

"The EU did not stop there and expressed a belief that is striking in its absurdity and amateurishness: the sanctions imposed on Russia are so well calibrated and balanced that they do not interfere with Russia’s agricultural exports, an example of which is the supply of Russian grain under the Black Sea Initiative," Zakharova said.

"Unfortunately, Brussels still has not figured out that only Ukrainian food is being exported across the Black Sea under the grain deal. Washington is no stranger to issuing valuable tips to other countries about their obligations, completely forgetting about its own," she added.

According to Zakharova, the Europeans have shown complete disregard for the countries’ needs for grain and fertilizers.

"Clearly, the Ukrainians and Westerners no longer trouble themselves with either analyzing compliance with the Black Sea Initiative (not to mention the failure to act upon the Russia-UN Memorandum), or making any attempts to comply with their own high-flown statements about global food security. Having, in fact, trampled upon the original humanitarian goals of the Istanbul package agreements and shown complete disregard for the countries’ needs for grain and fertilizers, the Europeans threw all their weight into satisfying Kiev’s growing commercial appetites and fulfilling their goals of filling their warehouses with cheap Ukrainian grain," the diplomat concluded.