A farmer and member of the AgroUnia union inspects warehouses for unsold corn grain at a farm in Sedziejowo, Poland, Monday, April 17, 2023.
Bartek Sadovski | Bloomberg | Getty Images
UNITED NATIONS – The essential food security of tens of millions around the world hangs in the balance as Russia considers whether to keep a deal that allows Ukrainian grain to move through the Black Sea.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov renewed threats on Tuesday to abandon the Black Sea Grain Initiative, an agreement that allows safe wartime exports of agricultural products from besieged Ukrainian ports.
Lavrov told reporters at the United Nations that one of Moscow’s demands was for the Russian Agricultural Bank, or Rosselkhozbank, to return to the SWIFT banking system.
Two days after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the US, European allies and Canada blocked key Russian banks from the SWIFT interbank messaging system.
Moscow’s exclusion from SWIFT, which stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, cut the country off from much of the global financial system.
Lavrov also said the deal is currently one-sided because Russian fertilizers cannot transit in the same way as Ukrainian grain.
“It’s not called a grain deal, it’s called the Black Sea Initiative, and the text of the agreement itself states that it refers to the expansion of grain and fertilizer export opportunities,” Lavrov told reporters at a news conference.
“This is not the deal we agreed to on July 22,” he added. Lavrov said there were dozens of Russian cargo ships carrying around 200,000 tons of fertilizer in European ports.
Ships, including those carrying grain from Ukraine and awaiting inspections, are seen anchored off the coast of Istanbul on November 2, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Chris McGrath | Getty Images