Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cast doubt on the future of a UN-backed grain deal, saying there was ‘a lot of work’ to be done before the deal could be finalized. renewed next month.
The deal has allowed Ukraine – one of the world’s biggest wheat producers – to export grain from its Black Sea ports since the beginning of August.
Lavrov said Moscow wanted the UN to provide proof that the exports, which must pass through a monitoring center in Istanbul, are being directed to the world’s poorest countries. Speaking at a joint press conference with the secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Moscow on Monday, he said he had asked the UN for data on the final destinations of the grain.
Lavrov said Russia understands that the poorest countries receive only 5-7% of exported grain, while the rest goes to the European Union.
“European countries give the following explanation: they say, yes, we receive most of the grain from Ukraine, but then this grain is distributed all over the world, including to the poorest countries. I would like to have a clearer picture, so we asked the UN secretariat who is engaged in this operation, and who has all the data, to provide statistics on the movement of grain to the final destination,” said Lavrov.
The data requested from the UN will inform Russia’s decision whether or not to stay in the grains deal, he added.
Lavrov also complained that the second part of the agreement, which deals with the supply of Russian food and fertilizers to the world market, “is practically not implemented”.
Lavrov argued that there is a need for clear legal exemptions from sanctions for Russian companies and guarantees for the free entry of Russian ships into European ports and foreign ships into Russian ports. He said one of the main problems was the sanctions imposed on the Russian Agricultural Bank, the main financial institution ensuring the supply of fertilizers and cereals to world markets.
” There is a lot of work. The deal expires in November. And we assume that before the issue of its extension is considered, all the mentioned issues will be satisfactorily resolved,” Lavrov said.