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U.N. Offers To Connect Russian Bank To SWIFT In Exchange For Grain Deal Extension

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has reportedly proposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the grain export deal allowing safe shipments from Ukraine via the Black Sea be extended. In return, the proposal suggests connecting a subsidiary of Russia’s agricultural bank to the SWIFT international payment system. The deal is set to expire soon, and Russia has threatened to terminate it due to unmet demands related to its own grain and fertilizer exports.

One of Moscow’s key demands is the reconnection of Rosselkhozbank, the Russian agricultural bank, to the SWIFT network. The bank was cut off by the European Union in June 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While the EU has stated that it is not considering reinstating Russian banks, discussions are underway to potentially connect a Rosselkhozbank subsidiary to SWIFT specifically for grain and fertilizer transactions.

According to sources familiar with the discussions, Guterres has proposed to Putin that the Black Sea grain deal be extended for several months, allowing the EU time to establish a connection between SWIFT and a subsidiary of Rosselkhozbank. The United Nations spokesman confirmed that Guterres sent a letter to Putin outlining a way forward to facilitate Russian food and fertilizer exports while ensuring the uninterrupted shipments of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.

The exact details of the proposal have not been disclosed, but the U.N. spokesman stated that the objective is to address financial transaction hurdles concerning the Russian Agricultural Bank while maintaining the flow of Ukrainian grain. Guterres is actively engaged with all relevant parties and is open to further discussions with Russia on his proposal.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July 2022, aimed to alleviate the global food crisis exacerbated by Russia’s invasion and blockade of Ukrainian ports. As part of the initiative, a three-year memorandum of understanding was established to assist Russia in exporting its food and fertilizer products. Although Russian food and fertilizer exports are not subject to Western sanctions, Moscow claims that restrictions on payments, logistics, and insurance have hindered shipments.

The outcome of these negotiations will have significant implications for the continuation of the grain deal and the reconnection of the Russian Agricultural Bank to SWIFT. It remains to be seen whether a resolution can be reached to address the concerns of all parties involved and ensure the smooth operation of grain exports from Ukraine and Russian food and fertilizer transactions.

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