Russia and Ukraine are back in talks to extend a grain deal that expires tomorrow. Negotiations have been slow as Russia has made a series of demands. These are the pain points:
• Agricultural bank Rosselkhozbank should be re-admitted to Swift, the international financial exchange system. As part of the sanctions, Russia has been cut off from SWIFT since last year.
• Supply of agricultural equipment and spare parts should be resumed.
• Barriers to insurance for Russian ships and goods and access to foreign ports must disappear.
• An ammonia pipeline between the Ukrainian port city of Odesa and the Russian city of Togliatti is to be restarted.
• Bank accounts and financial activities of Russian fertilizer companies should be unblocked.
The grain deal has moved more than thirty million tons of grain from Ukrainian Black Sea ports since last summer. Ukrainian grain is very important for international food supply. The contract contains the following terms and conditions:
• Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN have set up a coordination center with representatives from all parties involved. The center inspects Ukraine-bound grain ships near Istanbul.
• Ukraine is allowed to export grain from three ports.
• Russia and Ukraine have pledged not to attack civilian shipping and ports.
• The agreement is valid for 120 days and is automatically extended unless either party indicates that they wish to terminate or amend the agreement.
Don de Vries
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