Moscow sees no sign of new guarantees on grain deal, Lavrov says

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia sees no sign that it will receive the guarantees that will allow it to resume a deal permitting Ukraine, one of the world’s main exporters, to ship grain through the Black Sea, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday.

Russia quit the year-old deal in July, complaining in particular that Western sanctions were impeding its own exports of grain and fertilisers, in contravention of a memorandum signed in parallel with the Black Sea grain deal.

Lavrov said after a meeting with the foreign minister of Turkey, which brokered the deal together with the United Nations, that Russia was ready to return to the deal “tomorrow” if its demands were met, but that there was no sign of this happening.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said:

“Russia has demands for uninterrupted export of its own grain and fertiliser. We confirmed the importance of meeting these demands in our meeting.”

He added that, helped by Turkey’s efforts and contributions, the United Nations had prepared a new proposal package: “We believe that this provides a suitable basis for the revival of the initiative.”

But Lavrov said: “There is still not a single guarantee in this message. There are only promises to try faster, try more actively…

“As soon as there are not promises, but guarantees, with a concrete result that can be implemented tomorrow, then from tomorrow the implementation of this package will resume in full.”

He said it was the West that stood in the way of a solution.

“The U.N. members themselves cannot do anything, they are forced to ask the West to be reasonable, to take a constructive approach; the West doesn’t want to do that.”

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey and David Evans)