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Russia: 'No More Grain Deal Extensions'

FILE: Liberia-flagged bulk carrier Eneida, loaded with grain under the U.N.'s Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI), waits for inspection in the southern anchorage of Istanbul, Turkey on May 17, 2023.

PARIS - Russia's foreign ministry said on Monday that it saw no prospects for extending the Black Sea grain export deal, which is set to expire in mid-July, Russian news agencies reported.

Russian RIA news agency said a new round of Russia-U.N. talks on the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) would take place in Geneva on June 9.

Russia has repeatedly threatened to quit the deal, complaining that obstacles still remain to its own exports of food and fertilizer.

To help convince Russia to back the deal, a three-year pact was also struck last July in which the U.N. agreed to help Moscow carry out its food and fertilizer shipments.

Moscow also demands the reopening of a pipeline carrying ammonia from Russia to the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Pivdennyi - known in Russian as Yuzhny - for export to global markets, and the reconnection of its agricultural bank Rosselkhozbank to the SWIFT international payment network.

The agreement last came up for renewal on May 18 and Russia agreed at that point to extend it for 60 more days, to July 17.

The deal was originally brokered by Turkey and the United Nations last July to allow Ukraine to resume exports from its southern ports, which had been blockaded by Russia since the start of its invasion.

The BSGI is especially critical to Africa, which imports large quantities of Ukrainian and Russian agricultural products. The start of Russia's Ukraine invasion in February, 2022 sent world food prices, and their basic commodities, soaring.