US works with UN on complaints over Russian food and fertilizer export

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Combine harvesters work on a wheat field of the Solgonskoye agricultural company near the village of Talniki, southwest of the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, August 27, 2015. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin

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NEW YORK, Sept 9 (Reuters) – The United States is working with the United Nations to address Russian complaints that sanctions are hampering its food and fertilizer shipments, even though there has been no disruption of commodity exports by Moscow, a senior US official said. said Friday.

The United Nations, Turkey, Ukraine and Russia agreed on July 22 on what was described by UN chief Antonio Guterres as a comprehensive agreement to revive Ukrainian exports of grain and food. fertilizer from the Black Sea and facilitate Russian shipments.

“We see no disruption in Russia’s ability to get food to market,” James O’Brien, head of the State Department’s sanctions coordination office, told reporters. “Fertilizer is still coming to markets at the same rate it always has.”

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While the United States and others have pointed out that Russian food and fertilizers are not subject to sanctions imposed following Moscow’s February 24 invasion of its neighbor, Russia has claimed there have been a deterrent effect on its exports.

“The complaints, I think, are just one example of misinformation,” O’Brien said.

Washington was “working in good faith,” O’Brien said, but claimed Russia didn’t need the deal because “it has access to markets through other means.”

O’Brien said the United States would do “everything it can” to respond to specific complaints and “Russia and the UN are in the process of processing some specific requests they have under the UN agreement and I think we will see progress in this area over the next few weeks.”

Senior UN and Russian officials met in Geneva on Wednesday to discuss Russia’s complaints. The United Nations described the discussions as positive and very constructive. Read more

O’Brien said the United Nations negotiated a way for the United States to speak with some of the Russian companies about specific concerns.

“We will do what is necessary to make it clear to every commercial actor that they are allowed to buy Russian food and fertilizer,” he told reporters, adding that so far Washington had no only had to issue a so-called comfort letter to clarify a transaction was authorized.

Moscow says sanctions and logistical restrictions imposed on Russian vessels entering Western ports or taking out insurance are restricting Russia’s access to global markets. It indicates that the relaxation of these restrictions was part of the export agreement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the deal on Wednesday, saying Ukraine was exporting food and fertilizers to the European Union and Turkey rather than to poor countries. The pact authorizing Ukrainian exports must be renewed in November.

The United Nations said 30% of grain and other foodstuffs that had left Ukraine under the deal so far had gone to low- and lower-middle income countries.

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Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Grant McCool

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