Russia discussed with UN reconnecting Russian agrarian bank to SWIFT
Russia is mulling reconnecting the Russian Agricultural Bank to the SWIFT payment system in order to facilitate grain exportation amid a global food crisis.
Russia discussed with UN officials in Geneva the issue of reconnecting Rosselkhozbank, the Russian Agricultural Bank, to the SWIFT payment system, with the former saying it was ready to solve the problem, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin said on Saturday.
Last February, Russian banks were excluded from the SWIFT interbank payment system by the European Commission and its allies. The maneuver was intended to hit the country's banking network and its access to funds via SWIFT, which is pivotal for the smooth transaction of money worldwide.
"From my point of view, reconnecting Rosselkhozbank [to SWIFT], which processes the majority of agricultural transactions, is a key issue," the top Russian diplomat said commenting on the results of the Friday talks.
United Nations chiefs held discussions with Russian officials on Friday, eight days before one of the agreements was set to expire, regarding the Black Sea agreement on exporting grain and fertilizers. The mid-afternoon discussions were held behind closed doors at the UN Palais des Nations headquarters in Geneva.
UN trade and development agency chief Rebeca Grynspan, UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths, and a delegation from Russia led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin discussed "steps taken to facilitate payments, shipping insurance, and access to EU ports for grains and fertilizer" during their meeting.
The UN-brokered deal, signed by Turkey, Russia, and Ukraine on July 22, is set to expire on November 19. It established a humanitarian maritime corridor for ships transporting food and fertilizer from the Ukrainian Black Sea ports.
"Without this, we simply cannot move forward. We have been discussing this issue before; we talked about it very substantively and at length yesterday," Vershinin added.
According to the deputy foreign minister, the UN representatives assured the Russian delegation that they see the issue at hand as vital, noting that his country will seek to reconnect Rosselkhozbank to SWIFT.
Meanwhile, Russia is considering establishing correspondent accounts in Citibank and JPMorgan as a temporary solution to the ongoing issue, the diplomat added, highlighting how the only real solution was for the West to completely reconnect the Russian Agricultural Bank to SWIFT.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Pankin revealed late last month that the Bank of Russia was actively developing the Financial Message Transmission System.
Russia believes that a gradual shift from the SWIFT interbank payment system to more secure channels for sending financial information protected from external pressure is necessary, according to Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Pankin in an interview for TASS.
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Russia in talks to use Mir card
The barring of all Russian clients by the main international payment networks is illogical, according to Pankin.
To this end, Russia is discussing the use of the Mir payment card with several states, such as Azerbaijan, China, and Egypt, Pankin said in the interview.
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"The unreasonable blocking of all Russian customers by the largest international card payment systems has increased the priority of expanding the geography of using Mir cards. We are actively working on it," he said.
"Negotiations with Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, India, China, Cuba, Myanmar, Nigeria, Thailand, and other countries are at different stages," the top Russian diplomat said.
He recalled that the Russian payment system is now available in Abkhazia, Armenia, Belarus, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, South Korea, and South Ossetia.
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