Russian export ban could scupper Black Sea grain deal, G7 warned

There are renewed fears that the deal brokered by the UN and Turkey in July 2022, which guarantees safe passage for grain trapped in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports due to that country’s conflict with Russia, will collapse.

Russian export ban could scupper Black Sea grain deal, G7 warned
Unless Russia’s full set of demands is met, the Grain Initiative is likely to collapse, according to sources.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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According to Reuters, Russia’s foreign ministry said on 26 April that only its full implementation could save the deal from collapsing, thereby reaffirming that country’s government’s dissatisfaction with the accord aimed at preventing a global food crisis.

Russian authorities had repeatedly stated it would not allow the deal to be extended beyond 18 May unless Western countries “removes obstacles to Russian grain and fertiliser exports”.

“[The deal] is not a buffet you can pick and choose from,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during a recent media conference in Moscow. She added that the implementation of the deal so far had been unsatisfactory.

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Russia was reportedly contending that the stipulations of the deal allowing it to export its own agricultural goods via the Black Sea were not being honoured.

Although Russia’s agricultural exports had not been explicitly targeted by the sanctions imposed by Western countries, the Russian government maintained that restrictions on its payments, logistics and insurance industries had created a barrier to the exporting of its grains and fertilisers, Reuters said.

The reconnection of the Russian Agricultural Bank (Rosselkhozbank) to the international SWIFT payments system had been one of Russia’s main demands during negotiations.

Adding fuel to the fire was a statement by former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev earlier this the week in which he said that if the Group of Seven (G7) countries followed through with its intention to ban exports to Russia, the latter country would respond by terminating the Black Sea grain deal.

Citing a Japanese government source, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported last week that the G7 were considering a near-total ban on exports to Russia, as part of an extension of the sanctions regime the group had instituted against that country due to its ongoing war with Ukraine.

Japan will be hosting the G7 summit in Hiroshima, western Japan from 19 to 21 May, and discussions around measures to expand support to Ukraine and strengthen sanctions on Russia would be among other key topics, the news agency said.

“The G7 countries have already stopped exporting a wide range of items to Russia, including products that can be used for military purposes and luxury goods. But the latest plan could expand the trade embargo to used cars, tires, cosmetic items and clothing,” the Kyodo news agency source said.

The summit would bring together the leaders of the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US, as well as the EU.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had reportedly also invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to join the gathering online.