The Secretary-General of the United Nations proposed a “way forward” that would allow the extension of the agreement on Ukrainian grain exports, his services announced yesterday after meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister in New York.

Antonio Guterres handed Sergei Lavrov “a letter to (Russia’s) President Vladimir Putin outlining the proposed way forward to improve, extend and expand” the agreement that allows for the export of Ukrainian grain from July 2022 through the Black Sea despite the armed conflict, according to the statement.

A similar letter has been sent “to the other two contracting parties” of the agreement, which is considered crucial for global food security, in other words to Ukraine and Turkey.

The Initiative for the Safe Export of Grain and Food from Ukrainian Ports, or the Black Sea Grain Initiative, was renewed for the second time on March 19. But Russia insisted the extension be for 60 days rather than 120, citing its objections to the implementation of a parallel deal on its own agricultural exports, particularly fertiliser, which is blocked by Western sanctions.

In mid-April, and again on Monday, Moscow threatened to end the deal on May 18 if its conditions were not met, notably if it did not remove barriers to its own agricultural exports and reconnect to its SWIFT international banking system. of Russian bank Rosselkhozbank, which specializes in agricultural transactions.

The UN Secretary-General “recorded the concerns of the Russian Federation” over the implementation of the agreement regarding exports of its own food products and fertilizers and “delivered a detailed report on the progress made” on the issue, according to his services. who emphasized that the UN will “continue its work” to “address the remaining problems”.

But “so far, not much progress has been made,” Sergei Lavrov commented, according to a statement from his services, citing a lack of “will from Western countries to really do what is necessary to successfully implement” both aspects. of the folder.

“We will study the ideas that (the UN Secretary-General) submitted to us in writing,” he added.

Furthermore, Mr. Guterres expressed his “concerns” about the “recent obstacles” in the “daily operation” of the Coordination Center for the implementation of the agreement, in which representatives of the four parties (Ukraine, Russia, UN, Turkey) participate.

Inspections of ships carrying Ukrainian grain were temporarily suspended last week.