Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has already issued warning that if the current situation does not change Russia would terminate its cooperation with the Black Sea Grain Initiative which established to boost exports to needy foreign countries. The deal was extended for 90 days on May 18.
“As concerns the Black Sea initiative’s future… If everything remains as it is, and it looks like this is what’s going to be, it should be assumed that it doesn’t function any longer,” Lavrov said at a press conference in Nairobi in conclusion of his visit to Kenya. As concerns exports of Ukrainian foodstuffs under the Black Sea initiative, “less than three percent of the 30 million tonnes exported has found its way to the poorest countries,” he further explained.
“The Russia-UN memorandum has not been implemented at all. We have an opportunity to ship our agricultural products bypassing the Russia-UN memorandum mechanisms, but definitely, if the UN secretary-general manages to implement everything he has called for, which the memorandum stipulates, I think the effect on the food and fertilizer market would be much more positive,” he said.
“The process is moving ahead extremely slowly, and we can’t help qualifying steps by the European Union and its members as outright sabotage of food security objectives,” he said.
The Black Sea grain deal, a United Nations-Russia agreement struck in July last year, would no longer be operational unless a U.N. agreement with Moscow to overcome obstacles to Russian grain and fertiliser exports was fulfilled. This includes five systemic problems (bank payments, transport logistics and insurance, parts supplies, unblocking frozen assets and the ammonia pipeline.)
With reluctance Moscow finally agreed to extend the grain deal for a further two months, until July 17, but said more progress had to be made to advance its own interests. Lavrov said that less than 3% of the grain exported under the deal had reached the world’s poorest countries.
The agriculture ministry is creating an attache network abroad pursuant with the Russian president’s order. Russia has set its sights on expanding agricultural exports. Yet, due to economic restrictions, Russian agribusiness is bumping up against serious difficulties in international markets.
Reports say Russia is creating a network of agricultural attaches, an important system of promoting agricultural products in foreign markets. In all, the ministry is planning to have agricultural attaches in 50 countries. Russia is experiencing difficulties due to stringent sanctions since February 2022 due to ‘special military operation’ in the neighboring Ukraine.