NUSA DUA, INDONESIA – The extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is set to expire on Nov. 19, may hinge on what Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov describes as the removal of obstacles that are hindering Russia’s ability to export grains and fertilizers.
Lavrov told reporters at the G20 summit in Bali on Nov. 15 that the United Nations had told him of written US and EU promises to remove the obstacles, Reuters reported.
He said that while Russian grains and fertilizers are not directly targeted by NATO sanctions, which have been in place since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the sanctions have restricted trade because they limit access to ports, finance and insurance, according to Reuters.
Despite these obstacles, the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service forecasts that Russia will export a record 42 million tonnes of wheat in the 2022-23 marketing year.
The original trade deal agreement, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in late July, has allowed the shipment of more than 9 million tonnes of grain and other food exports during the past three months.
Prior to the deal, Russia had used a naval blockade to prevent the ships from leaving the Black Sea ports.
A UN statement on Nov. 11 said the participants “remain engaged in the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and held constructive discussions on its continuation.”
Russia briefly suspended its participation in the deal on Oct. 29 after an attack on its Black Sea fleet but returned to it just four days later.