Press release on the situation over Istanbul agreements

Submitted on Mon, 06/26/2023 - 18:55

As the Black Sea initiative to export Ukrainian food (which no longer covers the export of Russian ammonia) approaches its expiry date, UN officials led by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres have again made a series of public statements. They advocate the extension and even expansion of the agreement and report on their tireless efforts on the Russia-UN Memorandum on normalising Russian agricultural exports. They are again making use of their usual talking points about global food security, helping the needy and fighting hunger.

The reality, however, remains the same: out of the package of agreements proposed by the UN Secretary General and signed a year ago in Istanbul, the Black Sea initiative is the only one being implemented. At the same time, grain is mainly sent to high- and upper-middle-income countries, including the EU, which is far from the declared humanitarian goals. The poorest countries have essentially received nothing. Apart from sea traffic, Brussels also exports food from Ukraine via land security corridors, flooding markets of Eastern European countries with cheap products along the way.

Nothing has been done concerning the Russia-UN Memorandum. Westerners are feeling no qualms about openly asserting that they are continuing and tightening illegal unilateral sanctions against Russia, regardless of their destructive impact on food and fertilizer supplies on world markets, including in the global South. Three of the five fundamental tasks stipulated by the Memorandum – connecting Rosselkhozbank to SWIFT, supplying spare parts, and reactivating the Togliatti-Odessa ammonia pipeline – have already been effectively removed from the agenda. No progress has been made on the other two goals: to normalise transport logistics and insurance and unblock bank assets.

Against this background, attempts by the United Nations to mislead the international community with its optimistic statements on tireless efforts, which, however, have not yielded any results over the past year, look even more surprising. It seems even more inappropriate that the UN Secretary General expressed disappointment regarding the decline in Ukrainian food exports under the Black Sea initiative. It is noteworthy, however, that the undermining of the ammonia pipeline on June 5, the reopening of which was provided for by both Istanbul agreements and a separate proposal by Antonio Guterres, has not received a response.