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News > Russia

Grain-Carrying Ships To Leave the Black Sea by July 17: Russia

  • Ships carrying grain in the Black Sea, 2023.

    Ships carrying grain in the Black Sea, 2023. | Photo: Twitter/ @jakpost

Published 5 July 2023 (21 hours 5 minutes ago)

The 2022 Black Sea Initiative has turned into "purely commercial exports of Ukrainian food to 'well-fed' countries," the Russian diplomacy says.

On Tuesday, Russia asserted that the ships carrying grain from Ukrainian ports must leave the Black Sea before the expiration of the Istanbul Agreement on July 17.


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"Russia continues to consciously and responsibly fulfill its obligations as part of the agreement, making the necessary efforts in strict compliance with the procedural rules so that all participating ships can successfully accomplish their mission and leave the Black Sea before its validity expires," the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry stated.

The Russian authorities also pointed out that there are obvious reasons not to continue the Black Sea Initiative agreed upon in 2022 with the mediation of Turkey and the United Nations, which allowed for the export of Ukrainian food amid the war.

The Kremlin emphasized that the agreement cannot be extended without the consent of all parties involved: Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey.

This initiative, which aimed to provide assistance to needy countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, "has turned into purely commercial exports of Ukrainian food to 'well-fed' countries."

Russia claimed that out of the 32.6 million tons of cereals exported from the ports of Odessa, Yuzhni, and Chornomorsk since August 2022, 81 percent was sent to high and upper-middle-income countries, while only 2.6 percent reached the poorest countries such as Ethiopia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Somalia.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry highlighted that the UN memorandum for the normalization of exports of Russian agricultural products and fertilizers "continues to deteriorate."

This three-year agreement does not require any special decision for its extension. However, since it is not being fulfilled, Moscow will not renew the agreement for the export of Ukrainian grain.

Since July 2022, the European Union (EU) has imposed five new "packages" of sanctions against Russia, while the "increasingly restrictive" extraterritorial restrictions from the United States and the United Kingdom persist, which have blocked Russian agricultural exports.

Russia's demands to maintain the initiative included the reconnection of its agricultural bank, Rosseljozbank, to the international SWIFT banking system, the lifting of sanctions on agricultural machinery spare parts, the unblocking of logistics and transportation insurance, the unfreezing of assets, and the resumption of the Togliatti-Odessa ammonia pipeline, which exploded on June 5.

"We are talking about an ammonia pipeline through which approximately 2 million tons of raw materials were pumped annually, enough to feed 45 million people," emphasized the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Since September 2022, out of the 262,000 tons of Russian fertilizers intended for donation to needy countries, only two batches have been sent to Malawi (20,000 tons) and Kenya (34,000 tons). Russia stated that the United Nations "remains silent" on this matter, and the West "publicly declares that it cannot relax sanctions, even for food and fertilizers."

Russian diplomat Maria Zakharova noted that the speculations circulating in Anglo-Saxon media about the possibility of the EU creating a subsidiary of Rosseljozbank to connect it to SWIFT ignore the fact that establishing a banking subsidiary would require "many months," and allowing it to operate internationally would take "another three months."

Therefore, she indicated that this scheme is "deliberately insurmountable," and its sole purpose is to pressure Russia into once again extending the Black Sea Initiative.

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