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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has offered Russian dictator Vladimir Putin that he extends the Black Sea grain deal in exchange for connecting a subsidiary of Russian sanctioned bank to the SWIFT international payment system, Reuters reported on July 13, citing its sources.
Russia has threatened not to prolong the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which allows Ukraine to continue exporting its agricultural products, unless the West eases its restrictions against Russia's grain and fertilizers exports. The current agreed-upon extension period is set to expire on July 17.
Moscow's key demand is reconnecting the Kremlin-owned Russian Agricultural Bank to SWIFT, Reuters wrote. The European Union cut the bank from the payment system on June 14 under its sanctions regime over the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The EU is not considering removing that restriction but is weighing an option to connect a subsidiary of Russia's Agricultural Bank to SWIFT, allowing grain and fertilizer transactions, unnamed sources told Reuters and the Financial Times.
Guterres asked Putin to extend the grain deal for several months to give the EU time to arrange the scheme, according to Reuters.
The grain deal, brokered by Turkey and the UN in July 2022, has been essential in mitigating a global surge in food prices.
Russia's all-out war against Ukraine, one of the world's top grain exporters, initially prevented Ukraine from shipping agricultural products through its Black Sea ports.