Geneva, Jun 9 (EFE).- Officials of the United Nations and Russia met here Friday to discuss the future of the accord allowing shipments of grain and fertilizer to transit the Black Sea amid the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative, as it is officially known, dates from July 2022, when the UN and Turkey persuaded Moscow and Kyiv to create a safe corridor for transport of grain, fertilizer, and ammonia.
With an original term of 120 days, the pact has been renewed several times, but Russia says that it sees no reason to agree to another extension when the current term expires on July 18, citing persistent obstacles to exports of Russian ammonia.
Leading the talks in Geneva were Rebeca Grynspan, head of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin.
Moscow said earlier this month that it will limit exports of Ukrainian grain until its own shipments of ammonia – a key ingredient in fertilizer – receive the same benefits from the deal.
Friday’s consultations followed a report of damage to a pipeline used to transport ammonia from Russia to the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odessa, which has been out of operation since the start of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.
The Russian Defense Ministry blamed the damage on “Ukrainian saboteurs,” while Kyiv pointed the finger at Moscow.
The closed-door conversation in Geneva centered on the implementation of the memorandum of understanding between the world body and Russia regarding the facilitation of exports of Russian grain and fertilizers, UN sources said.
Specifically, Moscow wants permission for Russian ships to dock in foreign ports, the reconnection of the Russian Agricultural Bank (Rosselkhozbank) to the SWIFT interbank payment system, and the reactivation of the Togliatti-Odessa ammonia pipeline.
Cutting off Russian financial institutions from SWIFT was part of the sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union after the invasion of Ukraine.
As of the end of last month, more than 30.2 million tons of grain had been transported by 951 ships as part of the Black Sea deal, according to data from the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul.