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Russia Will Lift Export Ban to Extend Grain Deal with Ukraine

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The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the renewal of the Ukraine grain deal would only be possible if the ban on its agricultural exports was lifted.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, which was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last year, expires on March 18 and cannot be extended unless all parties agree. Russia has already indicated that it is unhappy with aspects of the deal.

Russia’s agricultural exports have not been explicitly targeted by Western sanctions, but Moscow says restrictions in its payments, logistics, and insurance industries are a “handicap” to its ability to export its own grain and fertilizer.

On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed prospects for renewing the agreement in a meeting with his Turkish counterpart on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi.

“(The) Russian side stressed that the continuation of the grain deal package is possible only if the interests of Russian agricultural and fertilizer producers regarding unhindered access to world markets are taken into account,” the ministry said in a statement.

Ukraine and Russia are among the world’s largest producers and exporters of grain. Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports after its invasion threatened to cause a global food crisis earlier this year, which was eased by the Turkey-brokered deal that lifted the embargo on Ukrainian shipments at the end of July.

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