UN and Moscow discuss Russian grain and fertilizer exports

UNITED NATIONS: Senior UN and Russian officials met in Geneva on Wednesday (September 7th) to discuss Russian complaints that Western sanctions were hampering its grain and fertilizer exports despite a UN-brokered deal to boost Russian and Ukrainian commodity shipments.

The United Nations, Turkey, Ukraine and Russia agreed on July 22 on what was described by UN chief Antonio Guterres as a comprehensive agreement aimed at reviving Ukrainian exports of cereals and fertilizers in the Black Sea and to facilitate Russian shipments.

While the United States and others have pointed out that Russian food and fertilizers are not subject to sanctions imposed following Moscow’s February 24 invasion of its neighbor, Russia has claimed there have been a deterrent effect on its exports.

Senior UN trade official Rebeca Grynspan met Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin for a “positive” discussion in Geneva on Wednesday, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said. .

“Discussions are taking place at a very constructive and professional level,” he said. “The challenges are pretty clear, but I’m not going to go into detail about what was discussed around this table.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on Tuesday for the removal of “logistical sanctions that prevent free access of Russian grain and fertilizers to world markets”.

Moscow’s complaints come ahead of likely talks to extend the original 120-day deal allowing Ukrainian Black Sea exports.

The goal of the comprehensive deal was to help ease a global food crisis that the United Nations says has been made worse by Russia’s war in Ukraine and has pushed tens of millions more people into hunger. Ukraine and Russia are both major wheat exporters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday the deal delivered grain, other food and fertilizers to the European Union and Turkey rather than to poor countries.

The United Nations has said the export deal is a commercial — not humanitarian — market-driven operation.

“This initiative is aimed at driving down world prices at the wholesale level and that’s what we’re seeing,” Dujarric said.