The EU is considering a proposal for the Russian Agricultural Bank to establish a branch to reconnect with the SWIFT global financial network. The bank is under sanctions; hence, the proposal to close the branch should protect the Black Sea grain agreement that lets Ukraine export food to global markets.
Following Russia’s statement last week, indicating that it had no intention to extend the grain deal beyond July 17 due to the West’s perceived “outrageous” actions, the Financial Times reports that despite this stance, Russia assured developing nations that its grain exports would persist.
The British paper’s unnamed sources said that Moscow’s plan, proposed through UN-brokered negotiations, would allow the bank’s unit to process payments related to grain imports. The new unit could use SWIFT for financial transactions.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the EU wants to somehow facilitate the agreement on grain. At the same time, Kyiv warned that although the idea was good and useful, it was not good to make concessions to blackmail Moscow.
Russia and Ukraine, as the world’s two leading grain producers, Russia and Ukraine are the main players in the grain and oilseed markets, from wheat to barley and rapeseed to sunflower oil. Russia is also dominant in the fertilizer market. In addition to joining the SWIFT system, Russia is seeking to continue the supply of agricultural machinery and parts.
Ukrainian Grain Black Sea Agreement Extended for Two Months
The agreement on the export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea received an extension by two months, Turkish President Recep Tayyip erdoğan said on Wednesday.
Erdogan said that the two countries decided to extend the grain agreement first reached in July 2022.
The agreement between the UN, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey, signed in July last year, enabled the export of more than 30 million tons of Ukrainian grain in the last ten months and helped alleviate the world food crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. It was previously renewed for 60 days on March 19.
The current renewal should be valid for 120 days, but the Russian authorities agreed to only 60 days.