Russia’s envoy: No grounds to maintain grain deal status quo

(Reuters) – Russia’s envoy to the United Nations in Geneva said there were no grounds to maintain the “status quo” of the Black Sea grain deal that is set to expire on July 18, the Russian news outlet Izvestia reported on Monday.

In a wide ranging interview, envoy Gennady Gatilov told the outlet that the implementation of Russia’s conditions for the extensions of the agreement was “stalling.” Those conditions included, among others, the reconnection of the Russian Agricultural Bank (Rosselkhozbank) to the SWIFT banking payment system.

“Russia has repeatedly extended the deal in the hope of positive changes,” Gatilov told Izvestia. “However, what we are seeing now does not give us grounds to agree to maintaining the status quo.”

The Black Sea deal, brokered between Russia and Ukraine by the United Nations and Turkey in July 2022, aimed to prevent a global food crisis by allowing Ukrainian grain trapped by Russia’s invasion to be safely exported from Black Sea ports.

Last week, the United Nations said it was concerned no new ships had been registered under the Black Sea deal since June 26 – despite applications being made by 29 vessels.


Gatilov said he hopes “common sense” will prevail in the United States and there will not be the need to consider the option to denounce the New Start nuclear weapons treat, the last remaining U.S.-Russia arms control treaty that caps the countries’ strategic nuclear arsenals.

President Vladimir Putin has suspended Russia’s participation in the pact, although both sides have pledged to continue to respect its limits and there since has been “direct contact” between Moscow and Washington on the issue.

Gatilov reiterated Moscow’s position that Russia would only return to a nuclear reduction treaty if Washington abandons its “destructive course of inflicting a strategic defeat” on Russia, but added Russia could be open to talks on a new pact.

“I wish we could instead start discussing a treaty that could replace START after February 2026,” he said.

The New Start Treaty, signed in 2010 is due to expire in 2026.

Separately, Gatilov told Izvestia Russia is open to a diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian crisis, but the outlook is dim now as Kyiv and the West continue to bet on the use of military force.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Lincoln Feast)