UNITED NATIONS, United States of America: During a meeting with Russia, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres suggested a “way forward” for expanding Ukrainian grain exports. The UN stated Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was in New York on Monday.
According to a representative for the Secretary General, Guterres gave Lavrov “a letter to President Vladimir Putin, outlining a proposed way forward aiming at the improvement, extension, and expansion” of the agreement.
Since last July, an agreement has been in place that allows Ukrainian grain to be exported via the Black Sea after it was previously barred due to the conflict with Russia. Exports are critical to global food security.
A similar letter was issued to the agreement’s other signatories, Ukraine and Turkey, according to the statement.
On March 19, the agreement, known as the “Black Sea Grain Initiative,” was renewed for the second time.
Over concerns to hurdles to its own exports, Russia pushed on a 60-day extension rather than a 120-day renewal.
Moscow stated earlier this month that a number of requirements must be met for Russia to extend it beyond May 18.
There are no prohibitions against Russian food and fertilizer shipments to global markets, but the problems stem from secondary penalties imposed on shipping and insurance businesses, as well as banks.
The foreign ministry outlined a set of requirements for the agreement’s continuation, including allowing the Russian Agricultural Bank (Rosselkhozbank) to reconnect to the SWIFT payment system.
The declaration further stated that agricultural machinery, spare parts, and services must be resumed.
Guterres stated that he “took note of the concerns expressed by Russia” about the fertilizers.
“We will study the ideas that (the Secretary General) has given us on paper,” Lavrov said, adding that “so far, there has not been much progress.”