Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia is ready to return to an agreement to transport Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea if Russia’s demands are “fully” met. He stressed that all the principles of Russia’s participation in the agreement must be fulfilled without exception, otherwise its extension would be “no longer meaningful,” AFP reported.
“We will explore the possibility of returning to the agreement, but with one condition: all the principles of Russia’s participation in the agreement will be taken into account and fulfilled without exception and in full,” Putin told a televised government meeting.
Russia decided this week not to extend a deal to allow Ukrainian grain exports after months of criticism, saying Moscow’s own agricultural products and fertilizers were being blocked by sanctions.
It demands that Russian banks and financial institutions be re-connected to the SWIFT international banking system after the start of the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Agerpres notes.
Russia’s agricultural sector, which along with Ukraine is one of the world’s largest grain exporters, has to deal with shortages of spare parts for machinery and industry and shipping insurance issues.
Finally, Moscow is demanding the resumption of operation of a huge pipeline linking the Russian city of Togliatti to the Ukrainian port of Odesa, which would enable it to export ammonia, a key component of fertilizers. The pipeline was hit by an explosion in June that Moscow attributed to Kiev.
Putin accused the West of “shamelessly” profiting from grain exports from Ukraine
“Once these conditions are met, we will immediately return to this agreement,” Putin said, accusing the West of “shamelessly exploiting” Ukraine’s grain exports.
Putin also accused the West of using the deal, which Russia pulled out of this week, as a tool of “political blackmail”.
“Instead of helping countries that really need it, the West has used the grain transport agreement for political threats and turned it into a tool for the enrichment of multinational corporations and speculators in the world market,” Putin said.
According to him, the grain deal resulted in an estimated loss of 1.2 billion dollars for Russian farmers and reduced export profits.
“Our country can exchange Ukrainian grain commercially and for free,” Putin continued, predicting a “record harvest” this year.
Editor: Andrea Smeria
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