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Russia Says it Will Only Renew Grain Deal if its Own Exports Are Unblocked

FILE - A crew member prepares a grain analysis onboard a ship coming from Ukraine loaded with grain and anchored in Istanbul, on Oct. 11, 2022.

Russia said Wednesday it would only agree to extend the Black Sea grain deal, which allows grain to be safely exported from Ukrainian ports, if the interests of its own agricultural producers are considered.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last year, expires on March 18 and cannot be extended unless all parties agree. Russia has already signaled it is unhappy with aspects of the deal.

Russia's agricultural exports have not been explicitly targeted by Western sanctions, but Moscow says restrictions on its payments, logistics and insurance industries are a "barrier" to it being able to export its own grains and fertilizers.

Moscow's foreign ministry said on Wednesday that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had discussed the prospects for renewing the deal at a meeting with his Turkish counterpart on the sidelines of the G-20 in New Delhi.

"[The] Russian side stressed that continuing the package agreement on grain is possible only if the interests of Russian agricultural and fertilizer producers in terms of unhindered access to world markets are taken into account," the ministry said in a statement.