The European Union is ready to withdraw the Russian Agricultural Bank (RSHB) from sanctions in order to resume the supply of Russian agricultural products to foreign markets, but this will require additional consultations. This was announced in an interview with Izvestia by the official representative of the European Commission, Peter Stano.
Russia previously insisted on an exception from sanctions, as well as a reverse connection to the SWIFT international payment system, as part of the resumption and later expansion of the grain deal under the auspices of the UN. Stano noted that in order to make changes to the EU, the unity of all members of the political bloc will be required. He also stressed that the sanctions against Russia were introduced not to create obstacles to the export of agricultural products, but to reduce income and put pressure on the political regime in connection with the military aggression against Ukraine.
“We have duly taken note of Russia's claims regarding the role of Rosselkhozbank in transactions related to food and agriculture, as well as the perceived difficulties caused by its disconnection from SWIFT. Although this makes transactions more expensive and slower, payments are still possible, ”the European diplomat quoted the publication as saying.
At the same time, the EU notes that the current sanctions architecture still allows payments for Russian food products through other banks that are not subject to sanctions and are still connected to the SWIFT system; moreover, the state-owned Gazprombank is still connected to the system, through which payments for oil and gas supplies pass. Europe's position on sanctions against the RSHB has softened significantly: as early as November 15, neither the US nor the EU allowed the lifting of sanctions against the bank, despite Russia's lobbying for this decision.
Moscow assures that it is ready to provide full control over all transactions through the RSHB if restrictions are lifted. Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Vershinin told the publication that if the sanctions are lifted, "the RSHB will deal with transactions related only to food and fertilizers, and will give the necessary guarantees that this will be the case." In the current situation, international payments for agricultural products are made through Turkish banks, however, making payments takes a lot of time and checks due to the threat of sanctions from Western countries.
Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN agreed on November 17 to extend the grain deal for 120 days. The UN is the main lobbyist for expanding the supply of Russian and Ukrainian food products to world markets in order to reduce pressure on them. The organization is extremely concerned about the problem of food security in the poor countries of Africa and Asia.