Nearly 100,000 tons reportedly remain blocked at ports in Latvia, Estonia, and Belgium
Western countries have still not released Russian fertilizer cargoes intended as humanitarian aid for poor African nations, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said on Sunday.
According to a press release from the ministry, more than 96,000 tons of Russian fertilizer is currently blocked in EU ports.
“As part of the Russia-UN Memorandum on September 7, 2022… Russia took the initiative to send 262,000 tons of mineral fertilizers blocked in the ports of Latvia, Estonia, Belgium, and the Netherlands as humanitarian aid to the poorest countries… Since then, however, only two deliveries have been completed,” the ministry stated, referring to a shipment of 20,000 tons to Malawi and a subsequent delivery of 34,000 tons to Kenya.
“The release of three other planned shipments – to Nigeria (34,000 tons), Zimbabwe (23,000 tons), and Sri Lanka (55,000 tons) – has been stalled, despite the fact that all preparatory procedures have been completed,” it added.
The situation is “yet another example of the hypocrisy of Western countries,” the ministry claimed. It noted that the EU has repeatedly declared that sanctions do not directly apply to Russian fertilizers and food exports, but in reality Brussels continues to block “even purely humanitarian, free deliveries” of Russian supplies.
The ministry stated that Russian exporters continue to face numerous obstacles due to sanctions, including significant taxes and exorbitant fees for storage, transshipment, and other logistics services. The country is also unable to pay for services after being cut off from the SWIFT interbank messaging system.
The ministry described the blockade of Russian produce in EU ports as “illegal,” and urged the bloc’s authorities to release the shipments.
“It’s time for Brussels, London, and Washington to either tie their actions with words about the non-extension of their illegal sanctions to Russian agricultural products, or stop lying to consumers, especially from the countries of the Global South, who bear the burden of the consequences of restrictions imposed [on Russia],” the ministry concluded.
Russian fertilizers were a key point in the UN-brokered Black Sea grain deal, under which Moscow and Kiev initially agreed to facilitate the delivery of Ukrainian grain to world markets, despite the conflict between the two nations. In exchange, Russia expected to have Western barriers that prevented its agricultural exports to be lifted.
The deal entered force in the summer of 2022 but was scrapped in July of this year after Moscow accused the West of failing to uphold its end of the bargain. The UN has urged Russia to return to the agreement, although Moscow has insisted it will not do so unless its conditions are met in full.
Among other measures, Russia has demanded that major agricultural lender Rosselkhozbank be reconnected to SWIFT.
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October 23, 2023 at 09:30PM