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EU blocks Zimbabwe fertiliser consignment

by Staff reporter
29 Oct 2023 at 08:27hrs | Views
The European Union (EU) has halted the delivery of approximately 23,000 tonnes of fertiliser donated by Russia to Zimbabwe, as part of its broader blockade on Russian agricultural exports in response to the conflict in Ukraine.

Zimbabwe, along with several other developing nations, was designated to receive a share of the 260,000 tonnes of free fertiliser from Russia's agro-chemicals company, Uralchem-Uralkali. Malawi (20,000 tonnes) and Kenya (34,000 tonnes) have already received their portions, successfully delivered earlier this year by ships chartered by the United Nations World Food Programme. Shipments for Zimbabwe and Nigeria, expected this year, are presently held at ports in Latvia, Estonia, Belgium, and the Netherlands due to the EU's tightened blockade on Russian agricultural products.

The EU has imposed sanctions on Russia, encompassing the export of various goods, including fertilisers, with the argument that Russia is utilizing these shipments to fund its activities in the conflict with Ukraine. The EU believes that blocking Russian fertiliser exports will exert pressure on Moscow to resolve the conflict.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation recently released a statement, stating that 96,000 tonnes of fertiliser are currently stuck in EU ports. The statement highlighted that Russia initiated sending 262,000 tonnes of mineral fertilisers to the poorest countries as humanitarian aid, but only two deliveries have been completed since then. Deliveries to Nigeria (34,000 tonnes), Zimbabwe (23,000 tonnes), and Sri Lanka (55,000 tonnes) have been stalled, despite completing all necessary preparations.

The Russian ministry condemned what it viewed as the hypocrisy of Western countries, noting that while the EU claimed that sanctions did not apply to Russian fertilisers and food exports, they continued to block humanitarian deliveries of Russian supplies. Russian exporters face multiple obstacles due to sanctions, including high taxes and fees for storage, trans-shipment, and other logistics services. Russia's inability to access the SWIFT interbank messaging system also hampers payment for services.

Moscow argues that the blockade of Russian goods at EU ports is illegal and called on Brussels, London, and Washington to align their actions with their statements about not extending illegal sanctions to Russian agricultural products.

Russian fertilisers played a crucial role in the UN-brokered Black Sea grain deal, which aimed to facilitate the delivery of Ukrainian grain to global markets despite the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. In exchange, Russia expected the removal of Western barriers hindering its agricultural exports. The deal, initiated in the summer of 2022, was terminated in July of the same year when Moscow accused the West of failing to uphold its end of the agreement.

Russia is a major global fertiliser producer, accounting for a significant share of potash, ammonia, and urea exports worldwide, along with Belarus.

Source - Sunday Mail
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