MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Potential additional economic sanctions imposed on Russia could lead the country to abandon the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which has helped facilitate grain exports from Ukraine and is up for renewal May 18, Bloomberg reported, citing a social media post by Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council.
The G7 nations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the European Union — are considering a total ban on most exports to Russia and are discussing the idea ahead of a leaders’ summit in Japan in May. Bloomberg reported that officials familiar with the matter say the proposal remains under debate and is not final.
In addition to leaving the Black Sea grain deal, Russia also may consider banning exports of some of its own goods, Medvedev said in a Telegram social media post.
“The total ban on the export of goods to our country by default is a wonderful idea, because it also implies retaliation and a ban of the import of goods from our country,” said Medvedev, a former Russian prime minister and president. “The grain deal will end.”
On top of the G7 discussions, the European Union is set to propose a ban on many goods transiting through Russia as the bloc attempts to tighten enforcement of tough economic sanctions imposed over the past year in response to Russia’s Feb. 24, 2022, invasion and blockade of Ukraine.
Russia previously has said that its participation in the grain deal was in doubt unless the sanctions that it says are impeding its own grain and fertilizer exports are removed. Western sanctions do not specifically target food and fertilizer exports, but Russia has said restrictions on payments, logistics and insurance are a barrier to its shipments.
A shipment of Russian fertilizer held in Latvia since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine 14 months ago has sailed for Kenya, Latvian authorities said on April 22, in what was seen as a possible boost for efforts to extend the Black Sea deal.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to discuss the grain agreement with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres while in New York, New York, US, this week to chair the UN Security Council meeting, Russian news agency Tass reported.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in separate agreements with Ukraine and Russia, was first agreed to on July 24, 2022, and renewed last November. When the initiative was extended for 60 days on March 18, the United Nations noted that since its initial signing, nearly 25 million tonnes of grains and foodstuffs had been moved to 45 countries, and it has been credited with helping to calm global food prices.