Wednesday, 30 November, 2022

No decision yet on grain deal extension - Russian deputy foreign minister

There has been no decision yet on the extension of the grain deal, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin told reporters on Saturday.

When asked a corresponding question, the deputy foreign minister answered, "No."

Vershinin recalled that unlike the agreement between Russia and the UN Secretariat, the Black Sea Grain Initiative is concluded for a period of 120 days.

"These 120 days will end on November 18. While making such a decision that has to be approved, we need to take into consideration all the circumstances," he added.

Firstly, he said, the two tracks are intertwined.

"We cannot take only one [agreement] out of the package, and do nothing with the other, and it is of paramount importance," the deputy foreign minister explained.

"Secondly, of course, we should take into account everything what has happened or is happening, and how it functions. And naturally, we cannot ignore those terrorist attacks that Ukraine carried out on the Crimean Bridge, including the terrorist attack on Sevastopol, home to the ships safeguarding the humanitarian corridor through which dry cargo ships and other vessels sail as part of the implementation of that Black Sea grain deal."

West’s hypocrisy

Vershinin underscored that Russia denounces any terrorist provocations and provocations in general, as well as the exploitation of the humanitarian route, which was designated for shipments of food and fertilizer cargoes, not for this purpose.

"And of course, we do pay attention, and the president has said it more than once, to the fact that the destinations of the cargoes sometimes raise questions, and that’s putting it mildly," the deputy foreign minister said.

"As I told you that, let’s say, about ten million tons of grain have been shipped out. First, we mean grain corn, but there are other cargoes, and those cargoes, according to our estimates, which are based on the UN statistics, are sent primarily to the European Union and Turkey," Vershinin said.

According to the high-ranking diplomat, the questions are understandable, especially if one remembers how many times Russia has been blamed for the threat of starvation it is allegedly responsible for.

"This hypocrisy, as they say, stares us in the face," he stressed.

"When we draw our attention to this, we are told that they might be used for further processing. We say, ‘Ok, then let’s see what the ultimate goal of those shipments is.’ If we talk about African, Asian or Latin American countries in need, that is one thing. But if we simply talk about shipments, so to speak, primarily to the European Union, then those previous statements about the threat of starvation are just absolutely hypocritical," the deputy foreign minister concluded.

Moscow thinks that the consultations on the grain deal with US representatives in Geneva were very useful, Vershinin, who heads the Russian delegation, told.

"Yesterday, we held another round of consultations with UN representatives. It is not the first meeting of this kind. We have held consultations both here and in Moscow. Yesterday’s consultations were long, lengthy, useful and detailed," the deputy foreign minister said.

According to Vershinin, the talks focused on the implementation of agreements of grain exports inked in Istanbul on July 22, namely the memorandum between Russia and the UN Secretariat to ensure unimpeded access of Russian food and fertilizers to the global market and the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which provides for exports of Ukrainian grain from three Ukrainian ports.

The deputy foreign minister underlined that those agreements were one package consisting of two interdependent parts.

"We presume and have presumed that their implementation hugely contributes to food security. First and foremost, we are talking about the contribution of the Russian Federation. You know the statistics that speak of enormous crops in Russia, especially this year, and accordingly, of Russia’s serious agricultural export potential," Vershinin stated.

On Friday in Geneva, a meeting was held between the UN delegation led by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths and Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development Rebeca Grynspan and the Russian delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin. The UN earlier reported that the sides had discussed food and fertilizer exports from Russia. The international organization called for removing all remaining obstacles to these exports.

Agreements on food exports from Ukraine were concluded on July 22 for 120 days. They are effective until November 19 and will be renewed automatically if none of the sides (Russia, the UN, Ukraine, Turkey) is against it.