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EU slammed by Ukraine for ‘offering blackmailer’ Russia banks sanctions loophole

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In a bid to preserve the Black Sea grain deal, the European Union (EU) is reportedly currently examining a proposal that would grant a sanctioned Russian bank the opportunity to establish a separate subsidiary, providing it with access to the global financial network.

The Financial Times reports that “five individuals familiar with the matter” have divulged this development.

Under Moscow’s proposal, which is being negotiated through the United Nations, the Russian Agricultural Bank would be permitted to create a subsidiary responsible for managing grain export payments.

Remarkably, this newly formed entity would enjoy authorisation to use the Swift system, which had been off-limits to major Russian banks following the Ukrainian invasion last year.

EU leaders, convening in Brussels last week, discussed the potential strategy of allowing the carve-out of the Russian bank as a means to persuade Moscow into extending the Black Sea agreement beyond the looming deadline of July 17.

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Advocates of the plan see it as the “least detrimental option” to secure Vladimir Putin’s support for an extension.

Officials are expressing concern that Russia’s threats to terminate the agreement have appeared considerably more severe this time, compared to previous rounds of extension negotiations.

Consequently, EU officials are meticulously scrutinising the proposal’s legal and logistical viability, as the Russian Agricultural Bank is wholly owned by the Kremlin, adding a layer of complexity to the matter.

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Responding to the Financial Times report, Ukraine’s foreign ministry ambassador at large, Olha Trofimtseva, said the EU wanted “to somehow facilitate the grain deal”.

She wrote on Telegram: “On the one hand, any opportunities for agricultural exports are good. On the other hand, making concessions to a blackmailer means encouraging him to continue blackmailing.

“It is a well-known axiom: a blackmailer does not stop if you fulfil his demands. He just comes up with new demands.”

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