Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets with the media in Havana on April 20, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
BUDAPEST – Almost nothing has been done to address Russia's concerns over the Black Sea grain deal, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday, the latest in a series of downbeat comments by top Moscow officials about the pact that enabled Ukraine to resume exports.
Russia has repeatedly said it will not renew the deal beyond May 18 unless the West agrees to lift a host of restrictions on payments, logistics and insurance which it says are hindering its own agricultural exports.
"Here, practically nothing has been done," Lavrov told reporters in Havana during an official visit. Footage of the news conference was broadcast by the Russian foreign ministry.
Inspections of ships carrying Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea resumed on Wednesday under the grain deal, which was brokered by the United Nations last July, five months into Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Hungary's Agriculture Minister Istvan Nagy said that the introduction of progressive subsidies for the transportation of Ukrainian grain in the EU would ensure that the grain reaches its traditional markets instead of getting stranded and distorting markets in neighboring countries
Lavrov will meet with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York on Monday, Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said.
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Separately, Hungary's Agriculture Minister Istvan Nagy called on the European Union to introduce progressive subsidies for the transportation of Ukrainian grain in the EU to protect farmers in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).
Nagy said that the introduction of such subsidies would ensure that the grain reaches its traditional markets instead of getting stranded and distorting markets in neighboring countries.
"In the spirit of European solidarity, we are advocating the introduction of progressive EU transit support so that Ukrainian grain can reach its former, traditional markets," he said.
This file photo taken on July 31, 2022 shows a grain combine harvester collecting wheat near Novoazovsk, Ukraine. (PHOTO / AFP)
Nagy made this call after talks with Mykola Solskyi, Ukraine's minister for agrarian policy and food, during which he also discussed Hungary's temporary ban on the import of 25 product categories from Ukraine, including grain, rapeseed, sunflower seeds, cooking oil and some meat products until June 30.
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However, Nagy clarified that transit shipments would not be blocked. He said that the measures were introduced to protect Hungarian farmers and consumers and that they were temporary.
With Xinhua's inputs