11 Sep 2023 09:12

Lavrov: Proposals to connect Russian Agricultural Bank's subsidiary to SWIFT to resume grain deal unacceptable

DELHI. Sept 11 (Interfax) - Proposals to connect a subsidiary of the Russian Agricultural Bank to SWIFT to resume the grain deal are unrealistic; Russia will be ready to implement these agreements only after the removal of all hindrances to export of Russian grain and fertilizers, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday.

"After reading this letter [of United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres], one is under the impression that, unfortunately, they are trying to use the secretary-general to promote their unilateral approaches," Lavrov told reporters following the Group of Twenty summit in Delhi.

"The whole point of [UN sec-gen's] address is that you [Russia] should immediately resume implementing the Ukrainian [part] of the grain deal, and for that, we [UN] will do something in the next month to connect someone to SWIFT, we will try to reach some agreement with Lloyd's in the next two-three months," he said.

"As for SWIFT and the Russian Agricultural Bank, it is not true, because no one, including Mr. Guterres, has promised to return the Russian Agricultural Bank to SWIFT," Lavrov said.

"They are trying to convince us to agree to a completely unrealistic scheme so that the Russian Agricultural Bank subsidiary in Luxembourg performs this function," he said.

"But this subsidiary has no license to perform banking operations, moreover, it has already exhausted its capacities there, it is going to shut down," Lavrov said.

"Mr. Guterres talked about Lloyd's with me in Jakarta, that he has apparently agreed on hosting some UN consultations at this venue. We also don't have any answer to a question about functions," he said.

The Russian side values Guterres's efforts to resume the grain deal, but "these efforts are doomed when the only thing the West does is making promises," he said.

"Both Europe and the West only promise to take some steps. For instance, they said - and it is also part of proposals which they shared with us - that frozen assets would be returned to Russian companies producing fertilizers. But at the same time, they still would not permit these companies to conduct banking operations," he said.

"Take any proposal everyone is talking about, there are nuances like these everywhere," he said.

At the same time, the minister reiterated Russia's stance that "when all actions necessary to remove any hindrance on the path of our export of fertilizers and grain are taken, we are returning to the collective implementation of the Ukrainian part of the Black Sea Initiative on the same day."