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Dhaka, Moscow negotiating to import oil from Russia, says envoy

  • Diplomatic Correspondent
  • 24th August, 2022 08:03:14 PM
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Against the backdrop of global fuel crisis and price hike, Russia has offered Bangladesh to import crude and refined fuel from the country to meet the domestic demand.

“In this regard, negotiation is now going on between the two countries. But Bangladesh have to take decision whether it will import fuel and other fuel products from Russia,” said Alexander Mantytskiy, Ambassador of Russia to Bangladesh at a roundtable on Wednesday afternoon.

The Ambassador also dismissed the “ungrounded” accusations of Russia being responsible for the ongoing global food and energy crisis.

The roundtable titled "Six Months of the Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine: Its Results and Perspectives. Russia-Bangladesh Relations in the Context of Economic Crisis" held at the Embassy premises in Dhaka.

The Russian envoy emphatically said it is not Russia rather the USA and some Western countries are fully responsible for the current economic crisis that is going on in the world including Bangladesh.

Alexander Mantytskiy also noted that the US-led unipolar world leadership has now turned into multipolar world order led by Russia, China, India and other countries. "Russia supports it," he added.

At the roundtable, the Ambassador also also briefed the audience on the state and prospects of Russia-Bangladesh relations in trade, energy and ICT sectors, making it clear that anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the West are unable to hinder their development.

Currently, he said the Russian-Bangladeshi business relations are going through another challenging time with the Western countries unleashing an unlimited economic war with Russia.

The unilateral sanctions imposed by the US, EU and UK and subsequent breach of production and logistics chains led to a huge setback in global trade, he said adding that a number of Russian banks were excluded from the SWIFT system, which affected transactions with foreign economic partners.

At the same time, the Ambassador said now both Russian and Bangladeshi companies are getting accustomed to the new reality.” Some of them are using alternative transportation routes to continue mutually beneficial trade.”

He said a large amount of items have been delivered by air and on August 1, a Russian cargo ship reached the port of Mongla for the first time since the beginning of the special military operation, thus marking the restoration of trade through waterways.

“As a result, even in the first quarter of 2022, the turnover between our two countries amounted to a solid volume of 650 million US dollars, which is only slightly less than during the same period of 2021.”

In spite of the widespread delusion that all Russian banks came under sanctions, he said there are only 14 financial institutions that cannot provide services to the Bangladeshi partners due to the economic restrictions.

However, the bilateral trade operations are being carried out successfully through the other Russian banks not affected by the Western restrictions.

Moreover, the Central Bank of the Russian Federation and the Bangladesh Bank remain in close contact discussing the ways to open correspondent accounts.

Highlighting cooperation in energy sector, Ambassador Alexander Mantytskiy the construction of the Rooppur NPP is being carried out without hindrances and according to the schedule. The Gazprom International Investments B.V. on August 19 launched drilling of a new well in the gas fields of Bhola islands.

“Exploration of two more wells is expected to begin this year. Hopefully, this initiative will contribute to exploring the own mineral resources of Bangladesh and consolidating the energy security of the country,” he added.

A number of other initiatives regarding the supplies of Russian crude and refined oil as well as on modernization of the local power infrastructure are being discussed both at the intergovernmental and business-to-business levels, he said.

The Ambassador said the economic ties between Bangladesh and Russia are not limited by the energy sector. “With major logistical obstacles being removed, the negotiations are ongoing between Moscow and Dhaka to resume wheat purchase on a G-to-G basis through the direct procurement method.”

At the initial stage, he said the possibility to deliver two-three lakh tons of Russian grain will be elaborated on. “The Russian Side also stands ready to supply potash fertilizers according to the previously signed contract, as the American sanctions no longer cover non-organic fertilizers and other essential food goods.”

Besides, he said there is a growing interest in Russia to procure the Bangladeshi medicine and agricultural products. Therefore, in March all restrictions, imposed by the Russian phytosanitary authorities on supplies of potato from Bangladesh, were lifted. “The first lot of local mangoes was delivered to the Russian Federation,” he mentioned.

Commenting on the charges pressed against Russia, making it responsible for all negative trends in the global agricultural, energy and essentials market, he said the current situation is not the result of the six month of 2022, but a steady trend for at least the last two years.

He said food and fuel prices began to rise in 2020, as the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a high demand amid a reduction of supplies, breach of distribution chains and increasing transportation cost.

Moreover, he said this instability were amplified by the ill-considered policy of developed countries concentrated on protectionism, waging trade wars and excessive reliance on renewable energy to the detriment of oil and gas processing.

“Western measures of economic coercion against Russia exacerbated already existing negative trends in the global market. Payment restrictions and logistical difficulties affected all economic operators. Prohibited entry of ships into some foreign ports prevented deliveries of Russian and Belorussian fertilizers to agricultural producers.”

He said the Russian Federation, as a responsible participant of the world trade, intends to continue fulfilling its obligations under international commitments in terms of exporting agricultural products, fertilizers, oil, oil products and other vital items.

We are deeply concerned about a possible food crisis and are well aware of the importance of supplying essential goods for the social and economic development of Bangladesh and other countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

To these ends, Russia agreed to ensure unhindered export of Ukrainian grain from the ports of the Black Sea. However, the practical implementation of this agreement demonstrated that the main commodity flows were directed from Ukraine to Europe, not to developing countries that need them most of all.

Certain restrictive economic measures applied by the Russian Federation, which are affecting export of agricultural and raw materials, are temporary in their nature and directed exclusively at minimizing the consequences of sanctions pressure and adapting the national economy and businesses to the conditions of external restrictions.

Therefore, stability of the global food, energy and financial markets could be restored only through reducing transportation and logistical tensions, ensuring unhindered supplies. There is the only way to achieve it: the real abolition of all unilateral coercive measures imposed by the Western countries.