Russia's return to grain deal bound by meeting its conditions: Lavrov
Russia is poised to rejoin the Black Sea grain deal, according to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as long as Moscow's export conditions for grain and fertilizers are met.
In a recent announcement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that Russia is prepared to rejoin the Black Sea grain deal on the same day that its conditions for exporting its grain and fertilizers to global markets are met.
This development comes after Russia withdrew from the agreement in July, just a year after it was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey. The primary grievances cited were obstacles faced by Russian food and fertilizer exports and the inadequate distribution of Ukrainian grain to countries in need.
Lavrov made the announcement during a briefing after attending a two-day G20 summit in New Delhi, India, where the G20 declaration called for "full, timely, and effective implementation to ensure the immediate and unimpeded deliveries of grain, foodstuffs, and fertilizers/inputs" from both Russia and Ukraine to address demand in nations of the Global South.
The supply of these crucial commodities has been hampered since February 2022. The United Nations, Turkey, and this year's G7 chair, Japan, have been actively working to ensure that grain supplies continue to flow into Western markets. However, Ukraine remains opposed to the idea of easing sanctions on Russia as a means to revive the grain deal.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan expressed cautious optimism about the deal's revival and emphasized that discussions between Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey are ongoing. Meanwhile, a letter seen by Reuters this week revealed that the United Nations had informed Russia that a unit of the Russian Agricultural Bank in Luxembourg could potentially apply to SWIFT within 30 days to regain access to the SWIFT international payments system, an idea that Lavrov dismissed on Sunday.
Lavrov asserted that no promises had been made, even by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres regarding the reconnection of the Russian Agricultural Bank to SWIFT. He added that the bank's Luxembourg unit lacks a license for banking operations and intends to cease its operations.
"All the idea of his (Guterres) letter is that we should resume the Ukraine part of the grain deal and in return, in a month, something would be done for someone to be connected to SWIFT, in two-three months there would be some attempt to agree with Lloyd's insurance company," the top Russian diplomat explained.
Russia to provide Africa with free grain
The Turkey and UN-mediated Black Sea Grain Initiative, or the grain deal, which provided a humanitarian corridor for exports of Ukrainian grain over the past year, expired on July 18, as Russia did not renew its participation in the deal. Moscow's withdrawal from the deal is due to unmet payment conditions and the fact that a large sum of the grain exported through the deal ended up reaching Western markets.
Both Ukraine and Russia have since laid plans to start shipping grain outside the framework of the deal.
Russian authorities said that most of the grain was being delivered to the European Union instead of countries that needed it the most.
The Russian leadership stated during a Russia-Africa Summit that Russia remains committed to assisting Africa with its food and energy needs.
Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev said in August that Russian grain will be delivered to Africa free of charge in the near future, highlighting Moscow's commitments to African countries.