Brussels says the state-owned Russian Agricultural Bank may return to the payment system only after the conflict in Ukraine ends
The European Union will not reconnect Russian state agricultural lender Rosselkhozbank to the SWIFT payment system in the immediate future, the Izvestia newspaper reported on Monday, citing EU foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano. The bank facilitates the majority of transactions involving Russian agricultural exports.
Stano told the news outlet that Brussels may move to soften or lift restrictions placed on the bank only when the conflict in Ukraine ends.
"As for the de-SWIFTing of Russian banks - this is part of the sanctions imposed by the European Union and other countries in response to Russia's [military operation] in Ukraine," he was cited as saying.
SWIFT stopped servicing Rosselkhozbank transactions in June of last year. Its reconnection to the system is one of the conditions Moscow has demanded in order to facilitate the Black Sea Initiative brokered by the UN and Türkiye. The agreement consists of two parts: one guaranteeing the safe export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, and the second which covers the removal of obstacles to Russian agricultural exports.
Russia has repeatedly stated that the second part of the deal is not being implemented, and has warned that it could quit the agreement if the situation does not change.
The EU previously said it was studying the possibility of reconnecting Rosselkhozbank to SWIFT, although the situation has not changed. In March, Brussels suggested that the Russian bank could use fax and e-mail to conduct transactions.
The grain deal was extended for another two months last week. Following the announcement, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called for the "distortions" in the implementation of the agreement - including Rosselkhozbank's continued lack of access to SWIFT - to be corrected as quickly as possible. The current extension ends on July 17.
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