Moscow is prepared to reject the renewal of an agreement on grain exports from Black Sea ports unless its demands are addressed, Russia‘s UN ambassador in Geneva has told Reuters.
Moscow has submitted a list of complaints about the agreement, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July, to the United Nations, said Gennady Gatilov in an interview with Reuters published on October 13.
The complaints were spelled out in a letter that Gatilov said had been delivered to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on October 12.
The agreement paved the way for Ukraine to resume grain exports from Black Sea ports that had been under a Russian naval blockade since Moscow invaded Ukraine and for Russia to resume exports of its own grain and fertilizer.
UN officials are due in Moscow on October 16 to discuss the renewal of the agreement.
Russia has complained about the implementation of the deal, claiming that the grain is failing to reach poorer countries as intended and saying it still faces difficulty selling fertilizer and food.
“If we see nothing is happening on the Russian side of the deal — export of Russian grains and fertilizers — then excuse us, we will have to look at it in a different way,” Gatilov told Reuters.
Asked if Russia might withhold support for the deal’s renewal, he said: “There is a possibility…. We are not against deliveries of grains, but this deal should be equal. It should be fair and fairly implemented by all sides.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin last month hinted at backtracking on the deal. During a call with French President Emmanuel Macron, he complained that Western sanctions were hindering supplies of Russian food and fertilizers to Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, according to the Kremlin.
However, there is ample evidence to the contrary, and Europe and the United States did not target either Russian grain or fertilizers for sanctions.
Before the agreement was signed, Russian warships blocked exports from Ukraine, one of the world’s top suppliers of grain to foreign markets, causing a sharp spike in food prices that threatened millions of people in poor nations with starvation.
Grain prices dropped after the deal was reached, easing economic pressures on poor countries.