Russia says sanctions are a barrier to Black Sea grain deal renewal

Feb 13 (Reuters) - Russia said on Monday that it would be “inappropriate” to extend the Black Sea grain deal unless sanctions affecting its agricultural exports are lifted and other issues are resolved.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, signed by Russia and Ukraine last July, created a safe corridor to allow grain to be exported from Ukrainian ports blockaded by the war.

The agreement, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, was extended by a further 120 days in November and is up for renewal again next month, but Russia has signalled that it is unhappy with some aspects of the deal and asked for sanctions affecting its agricultural exports to be lifted.

“Our position on the issue of a further continuation of the Black Sea Initiative remains the same,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin said in an interview with the RTVI broadcaster.

“Without tangible results on the implementation of the Russia-U.N. Memorandum, above all on the real removal of sanctions restrictions on Russian agricultural exports... the extension of the Ukrainian document is inappropriate,” he said.

Russia’s agricultural exports have not been explicitly targeted by Western sanctions, but Moscow says blocks on its payments, logistics and insurance industries are a “barrier” to it being able to export its own grains and fertilisers. (Reporting by Caleb Davis)