UN, Russia grain, fertilizer exports talks end without breakthrough
UN chiefs hold talks with Russian officials regarding the Black Sea agreement about exporting grain and fertilizers, but no settlements were made.
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.
"The discussions updated on progress made in facilitating the unimpeded export of food and fertilizers, including ammonia, originating from the Russian Federation to global markets," said a UN statement.
The head of the UN agency for trade and development Rebeca Grynspan, UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths, and a delegation from Russia led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin discussed "steps taken to facilitate payments, shipping insurance, and access to EU ports for grains and fertilizer" during their meeting.
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"The world cannot afford to let global fertilizer accessibility problems become a global food shortage," the statement said. Additionally, the UN was able to free a shipment of 20,000 tons of fertilizer that had become delayed in the Dutch port of Rotterdam as a result of EU-imposed sanctions on particular people and items.
According to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the shipment will soon arrive in Malawi under the auspices of the UN's World Food Programme. "The fertilizer in question was frozen because a sanctioned individual is involved with the Russian company that owns it," it said, without naming the individual or company involved.
"The decision to release the fertilizer was made on the understanding that the UN would ensure that it is delivered to the agreed location (Malawi) and that the Russian company and sanctioned individual will earn nothing from the transaction," the Hague said.
10.2 million tonnes exported
Two agreements brokered by the UN and Turkey were signed on July 22.
The first was to permit the export of Ukrainian grain that had been prevented by Russia's military conflict there, and the second was to allow the export of Russian food and fertilizer in spite of the Western sanctions put in place after Russia's operation.
On November 19, the UN is attempting to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative for another 120 days. However, Moscow has not yet said whether it will agree to that.
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It has complained that the second agreement, which has a three-year expiration date and exempts its fertilizers from sanctions, is not being followed. "The UN calls on all actors to expedite the removal of any remaining impediments to the export and transportation of fertilizers to countries most in need," the UN spokesperson added.
One of the biggest producers of grains in the world, Ukraine had 20 million tonnes of grain blocked in its ports before the safe passage agreement because of the Russian military operation.
10.2 million tonnes of grains and other foodstuffs had been exported from Ukraine as a result of the agreement, allaying some concerns about a worsening global food security crisis.
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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.
On October 29, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that Russia was withdrawing its participation from the deal following Ukraine’s drone attack on vessels of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol.
It was reported that over 200 ships that were intended to export grains remained stuck as a result of that suspension.
Earlier this month, in a meeting with permanent members of the security council, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Russian Defense Ministry was instructed to resume its engagement in the grain deal.
Yet, Russia remains cautious to withdraw its commitments if Kiev breaches the guarantees it provided earlier in the day about the non-use of the grain corridors for military purposes.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that resuming the UN-brokered grain deal is a diplomatic achievement.