Ukraine: Russia warns grain deal may be over

by Guy Faulconbridge

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia warned on Thursday that there would be no way beyond May 18 for a deal on Ukrainian grain exports transiting through the Black Sea if Western countries did not remove a series of barriers to Russian grain and fertilizer exports. Will not expand.

The deal, hit the headlines last July by the United Nations and Turkey, aims to ease a global food crisis, as the war in Ukraine has disrupted vital Ukrainian and Russian grain exports.

The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that “without progress in solving five systemic problems (…), there will be no need to talk about further expansion of the ‘Black Sea Initiative’ after 18 May”.

“We note that (…) this initiative has served and continues to serve Kiev’s commercial exports, especially to the benefit of Western countries,” he said in a statement.

While a separate agreement provides for the United Nations to help Russia with its food and fertilizer exports for three years, Moscow believes the terms of the two agreements are “interlinked”.

A UN spokesman said that “discussions with the parties are still ongoing” and that UN representatives were determined to ensure the implementation of the agreements.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge in Moscow with Michel Nicholls at the United Nations; French edition Jean Terzien)

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