Western countries are still refusing to release Russian fertilizer cargoes that were intended as humanitarian aid for underprivileged African nations, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. The ministry revealed that more than 96,000 tons of Russian fertilizer are currently blocked in various ports across the European Union (EU).
Under the Russia-UN Memorandum signed on September 7, 2022, Russia had proposed to send 262,000 tons of mineral fertilizers that were stuck in the ports of Latvia, Estonia, Belgium, and the Netherlands to the poorest countries as part of humanitarian aid. However, since then, only two deliveries have been completed. A shipment of 20,000 tons was sent to Malawi, followed by another delivery of 34,000 tons to Kenya.
However, the release of three other planned shipments has been stalled. These shipments include 34,000 tons to Nigeria, 23,000 tons to Zimbabwe, and 55,000 tons to Sri Lanka. The ministry stated that all necessary preparations for these shipments have been completed, but Western countries are still blocking their release.
The Russian Foreign Ministry criticized Western countries for their hypocrisy in claiming that sanctions do not apply to Russian fertilizers and food exports, while continuing to block even purely humanitarian deliveries of Russian supplies. It also highlighted the significant obstacles faced by Russian exporters due to sanctions, including high taxes and exorbitant fees for storage and transshipment services. Furthermore, Russia’s inability to access the SWIFT interbank messaging system has made it challenging for the country to pay for logistics services.
The ministry described the blockade of Russian produce in EU ports as illegal and called on EU authorities to release the shipments. It emphasized that it is time for Brussels, London, and Washington to align their actions with their statements regarding the non-extension of illegal sanctions on Russian agricultural products, or to stop misleading consumers, especially those in the Global South who bear the consequences of such restrictions.
Russian fertilizers played a crucial role in the UN-brokered Black Sea grain deal between Russia and Ukraine. The agreement aimed to facilitate the delivery of Ukrainian grain to world markets, despite the ongoing conflict between the two nations. In exchange, Russia expected Western barriers on its agricultural exports to be lifted. However, the deal was abandoned in July due to Moscow’s accusations of the West failing to fulfill its commitments. The UN has urged Russia to reconsider the agreement, but Moscow has stated that it will only do so once all its conditions are met.
One of Russia’s demands is the reconnection of major agricultural lender Rosselkhozbank to the SWIFT system. The country believes this is necessary to ensure the smooth flow of agricultural trade.
In conclusion, Western countries’ refusal to release Russian fertilizer cargoes intended as humanitarian aid for African nations has become a source of contention between Moscow and the EU. The Russian Foreign Ministry has criticized this as another example of Western hypocrisy and called for the immediate release of the blocked shipments. The ongoing dispute adds to the complexities of the already strained relations between Russia and Western nations.