Russia signals ending grain deal if problems remain


Russia has signaled that it can end the implementation of the grain deal if the problems in front of the export of Russian products through the Black Sea remain until May 18.

“We have extended this deal for 60 days. This is not an ultimatum but a signal. Why do we need it, if this deal is not in our best interest? We will see the results on May 18,” Russian Ambassador to Türkiye, Alexei Yerkhov told a group of reporters in Ankara late on March 15.

Russia agreed to extend the agreement for only 60 days instead of 120 days despite calls from the U.N., Türkiye and Ukraine. In order to avoid a global food crisis, Türkiye and the U.N. brokered the Black Sea Grain Initiative in mid-2022 and signed two agreements, one with Ukraine and Russia.

Since than more than 24 million tons of grain were exported from Ukraine but due to secondary sanctions on shipment, payment and insurance Russia could not resume its exports.

“We have exposed our suspicions concerning the implementation of the grain deal. Our position is clear,” Yerkhov said. One of the Russian concerns stems from the fact that most of the Ukrainian grain is being exported to the Western markets instead of the underdeveloped African countries, the envoy recalled.

In addition, Russia, which is even an bigger grain and fertilizer producer than Ukraine, cannot deliver its products, the ambassador said, “Shipment is needed for export. But there are problems before renting the ships, making the payments and providing insurances. The situation is even worse for the export of fertilizers. We made necessary complaints to the U.N. and Türkiye.”

Yerkhov praised Türkiye and the U.N. for acting in a constructive way for resolving the problems, “But there is a wall in the West.” It seems the Western countries also accepted the 60-day extension of the deal, the envoy said.

Tougher conditions on trade

On a question about press reports that suggested the emergence of some problems on the Turkish-Russian trade, the envoy confirmed that both Russian exporters and Turkish companies have started to observe toughened conditions.

“I can confirm to you that Russian and Turkish trade authorities are working on it,” he said, adding business has its own rules and it should be carried out accordingly. “But we are observing turbulence in the entire international relations, including international trade. So many things are intertwined in this world,” he said, accusing the West of using trade as a weapon.

Türkiye is not complying with the sanctions unilaterally imposed by the United States and the European Union against Russia but it says it will not be an instrument in efforts to circumvent these sanctions. It was under criticisms from the West for increasing trade volume with Russia since the war begun on Feb. 24, 2022.__Daily Hurriyet