Ukrainian grain restrictions extended by EU

Russia continues to block Black Sea as grain deal looks uncertain.

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The European Commission said on June 5 it was extending import restrictions on Ukrainian grain by five countries until September 15.

In April, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia cited concerns that grain from Ukraine meant to be exported to other countries had ended up in their local markets and was pushing down prices for local farmers.

On May 2, the EU allowed the five countries to ban domestic sales of Ukrainian wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower seeds while allowing transit through them for export elsewhere, including to other EU countries, until June 5.

According to reports, the European Commission said in its statement that bottlenecks and scarce storage capacity remain and the mid-September phase-out would allow for improvements in getting grain out of Ukraine and through the transit countries.

Russia: 'No prospects' for grain deal renewal

In related news, Reuters reports that Russia's foreign ministry again said it saw no prospects for extending the Black Sea grain export deal set to expire July 17.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative was brokered in July 2022 for an initial 120 days, with the latest 60-day extension occurring May 17, one day before it was set to expire. Russia has threatened several times not to extend the deal unless a list of its demands regarding its own agricultural exports was met.

Russia's demands list includes reopening a pipeline carrying ammonia from Russia to the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Pivdennyi and the reconnection of its agricultural bank Rosselkhozbank to the SWIFT international payment network.

Ukraine's ag minister says exports could continue without Russia

Ukraine said it would be ready to continue exporting grain across the Black Sea with a "plan B" without Russia if the current grain deal collapses.

Agriculture Minister Mykola Solsky told Reuters that Russia had already blocked Ukraine's major Black Sea port despite the deal and was allowing only one ship a day to deliver Ukrainian grain to certain countries.

Russia has said it will allow more ships through if all parties to the grain deal agree to unblock the Russian ammonia pipeline through Ukrainian territory for export.

Solsky said the government had already created a special insurance fund of around $547 million for companies whose ships would come to Ukrainian Black Sea ports under a new arrangement which would exclude Russia.

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