Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says part of Black Sea Grain Initiative is 'not being fulfilled at all'

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that part of the Black Sea Grain Initiative is “not being fulfilled at all.” File Photo by Russian FM Press Office/UPI | License Photo

March 9 (UPI) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that part of an agreement allowing the export of grain in the Black Sea amid its invasion of Ukraine is “not being fulfilled at all.”

Speaking during a press conference with Saudi Arabian diplomat Faisal bin Al Saud, Lavrov said that Russian fertilizer and grain was not being exported in accordance with the agreement due to sanctions.

“Concerning the deal — it is a package deal. You can only extend what is already being implemented, and if the package is half completed, then the issue of extending it becomes quite complicated,” Lavrov said.

The Black Sea Grain initiative was agreed upon in Istanbul in July. The agreement allows the export of Ukrainian grain, as well as Russian grain and fertilizer, via the Black Sea, with Turkey acting as a guarantor via a Joint Coordination Center that regulates the shipping routes and inspects vessels.

Lavrov said American and Ukrainian allies’ claims that Russian food and fertilizer would be exempt from sanctions are “dishonest.”

“In reality sanctions prohibit Russian ships carrying grain and fertilizers from entering the relevant ports. The sanctions prevent foreign ships from entering Russian ports to pick up these cargoes,” Lavrov said.

The Russian foreign minister also decried the ejection of Russia from the SWIFT international banking system.

“The sanctions prohibit Russian Agricultural Bank from using the SWIFT system,” Lavrov said.

On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for the extension of the grain initiative while visiting Kyiv. The deal was extended for 120 days in November and is set to expire on March 18.

“The Black Sea Grain Initiative, agreed last July in Istanbul, has provided for the export of 23 million tons of grain from Ukrainian ports,” Guterres said.

“It contributed to lowering the global cost of food and has offered critical relief to people, who are also paying a high price for this war, particularly in the developing world,” Guterres continued.

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