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UN conducts secret negotiations with Russia on lifting sanctions in exchange for “grain deal” – BILD (Updated)

The United Nations is secretly negotiating with Russia to cancel many substantial sanctions in exchange for renewing the “grain deal,” BILD reports. The editorial staff obtained a confidential letter from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, dated 28 August.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Photo: UN/Flickr
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Photo: UN/Flickr

According to BILD, Guterres’ proposes are the following:

  1. Russian state banks return to the international payment system SWIFT
  2. Russian ships get insurance against Ukrainian attacks in the Black Sea
  3. Russian vessels get access to European ports
  4. Unblocking the frozen Russian assets in Europe.

Furthermore, Guterres offered specific schemes to Lavrov to bypass the sanctions. For example, to bring Russian state banks back into the SWIFT system, the Secretary-General advised creating a subsidiary of the Russian Agricultural Bank. 

According to BILD, Guterres has coordinated his proposals with the European Commission, which monitors compliance with sanctions.

According to the publication, the Kremlin is currently studying the UN’s proposals, but Russians consider them “too good to be true.”

In Kyiv, Guterres’ proposals were called an “incredible insult.” The Ukrainian government would not return to the “grain deal” under such conditions, BILD reports.

On 5 September, BILD officially requested a comment from the UN Secretary-General. However, they are still waiting for a response.

The “grain deal” is an agreement for the safe export of Ukrainian grain between the UN, Ukraine, Russia, and Türkiye, signed on 22 July, 2022. Moscow withdrew from it on 17 July, 2023.

Update:

On the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations summit in Jakarta Guterres confirmed that the UN is “actively engaged” in trying to improve Russia’s grain and fertilizer exports to convince Moscow to renew the “grain deal.” The UN Secretary-General also confirmed that he sent Lavrov “a set of concrete proposals” to revive the “grain deal”.

“We believe that it’s necessary to create a system of mutual guarantee. Guarantee that the Russian Federation is able, indeed, to overcome difficulties that still exist, even if many have been solved, and, at the same time, guarantees that we will have the restoration of the Black Sea initiative,” said Guterres.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Oleg Nikolenko, stated that Kyiv’s position remains unchanged.

“Loosening the sanctions regime against Russia in exchange for reviving the “grain deal” will be a victory for Russia’s food blackmail, and an invitation for Moscow for new waves of blackmail,” said Nikolenko.

According to the Ukrainian official, the international community should compel Russia to fulfill its obligations rather than encourage Moscow to engage in new aggression.

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