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Russia was almost certain to quit the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) – which allows the safe passage of grain from Ukrainian ports – as it no longer needed to export ammonia via those transport hubs, a senior Ukrainian diplomat was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Brokered by the United Nations (UN) and Turkey, the deal is due to be renewed on 17 July.

Moscow has threatened not to extend the agreement unless a series of demands – including the removal of obstacles to Russian grain and fertiliser exports – were met, the 22 June report said.

Although the BSGI also allows for the safe export of ammonia – an important ingredient in nitrate fertiliser – none had been shipped under the initiative to date, Reuters wrote.

Russia has been pushing for the resumption of ammonia supplies via a pipeline through Ukraine to the Black Sea port of Odessa that has lain idle since last year, according to the report.

According to Olha Trofimtseva, Ukraine’s foreign ministry ambassador-at-large, as Russian ammonia producer Uralchem had found an alternative route it no longer needed to export ammonia via Odessa.

“The grain corridor. 99.9% that Russia will leave it in July,” Trofimtseva was quoted as saying on a messaging App on 21 July.

In May, Uralchem CEO Dmitry Konyaev was reported as saying a specialised ammonia terminal – with the first construction stage due to be completed on the Taman Peninsula in Russia by the end of this year – could be a substitute for the Odessa pipeline.

Ukrainian agriculture minister Mykola Solsky said this month Kyiv had a Plan B if Russia decided to quit the BSGI, Reuters wrote.

The Russian government had created a special insurance fund of around US$547M for companies whose ships would come to Ukrainian Black Sea ports under a new arrangement, Solsky added.

Ukraine had also said it could export grain via its small Danube river ports as well as through its Western border with the European Union (EU), the report said.

Trofimtseva – a former acting agriculture minister – was quoted as saying Ukraine had to prepare, while expressing doubt over the extent the insurance fund would help with exports.