UN chief sends Russia new proposals to revive Black Sea grain deal


U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has sent a letter to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, which outlines a set of new proposals for Russia’s return to the Black Sea grain initiative, in parallel with Ankara’s intensified efforts to this end.

Talking to the reporters late on Aug. 31, Guterres said he had written a letter to Lavrov with “a set of concrete proposals, allowing to create the conditions for the renewal of the Black Sea initiative.”

“We have some concrete solutions for the concerns allowing for an effective, or more effective access of Russian food and fertilizers to global markets at adequate prices,” he said without giving details.

The United Nations and Türkiye brokered the deal in July 2022 that allowed Ukraine to ship grain and other foodstuffs from three Black Sea ports. A separate memorandum between the U.N. and Russia pledged to overcome obstacles to Moscow’s shipment of food and fertilizer to world markets. Russia terminated the initiative on July 17 on the grounds that it could not resume exports due to the secondary sanctions on shipment, banking and insurance.

“I believe that working seriously we can have a positive solution for everybody — for Ukraine, for the Russian Federation, but more important than everything else for the world in a moment in which so many countries are facing enormous difficulties in relation to guarantee the food security of their populations,” Guterres told reporters.

He said a renewed Black Sea initiative must be “stable” – and not move “from crisis to crisis, from suspension to suspension.” The original agreement for 120 days was extended once for 120 days and twice for 60 days.

Guterres’ move came on the same day Türkiye’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan held talks with Lavrov in Moscow. Fidan and Lavrov discussed the Black Sea grain initiative in detail with Ankara’s pressure for the resumption of grain exports to the world markets in a bid to avoid a global food crisis.

Ankara welcomes UN proposals

Fidan said Ankara contributed to the U.N.’s new proposals and sees them as bringing about a suitable ground for the resumption of grain exports from Ukraine and Russia.

In his initial response to the letter, Lavrov said it was only about promises and not guarantees that Moscow has long been seeking. “As soon as talks turn into concrete decisions, we’ll be ready to resume the Ukrainian part of the grain package that same day,” he said, blaming the Western powers for not granting these guarantees.

Russia wants its agricultural bank should be allowed in the SWIFT system so that money transfers can take place.

In the meantime, Foreign Minister Fidan held a separate meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu who is also involved in the implementation of the grain deal.__Daily Hurriyet