Kremlin remains downbeat on state of Black Sea grain deal
(Reuters) – The Kremlin reaffirmed its position on Tuesday that the Black Sea grain deal is not working for Moscow, a day after the head of the United Nations handed Russia a letter with proposals to improve and expand it.
“Despite the fact that so much time has passed, (the deal) has not yet been implemented, it has not come together as a package, the conditions that concerned us have still not been realised,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
“Therefore, while the circumstances don’t add up in favour of this deal, we continue to observe,” he said.
The deal was brokered by Turkey and the United Nations last July to allow Kyiv to resume grain exports from its Black Sea ports that had been severed after Russia invaded Ukraine five months earlier.
Russia has signalled that it will not allow the deal to be extended beyond May 18 unless obstacles to its own food and fertiliser exports are removed.
On Monday, a U.N. spokesperson said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had proposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin a “way forward aimed at the improvement, extension and expansion” of the agreement.
The proposal was outlined in a letter that Guterres asked Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to deliver to Putin.
The grain deal was aimed at alleviating a global food crisis, as both Ukraine and Russia are major exporters of grain. Peskov, however, played down the extent to which shortfalls of grain from both countries had contributed to the crisis.
“We all know that the genesis of the global food crisis has other roots. And it is not a direct consequence of the loss of Ukrainian grain from the market,” he said.
“Of course, the loss of Ukrainian grain and Russian grain from the market may be one of the factors, but not decisive.”
(Reporting by Reuters, writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Gareth Jones)