| 1 December 2023, Friday |

Russia says JPMorgan stops processing its grain payments

U.S. bank JPMorgan (JPM.N) this week stopped processing payments for the Russian Agricultural Bank, Russia said on Friday, as it demanded action, not promises, from Washington to help Russian grain and fertilizer reach global markets.

JPMorgan had handled some Russian grain export payments for the past few months with reassurances from Washington. However, that cooperation stopped this week, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

“The direct channel between the Russian Agricultural Bank and JPMorgan … was closed on Aug. 2,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quoted by Russian media as saying.

The United Nations, the U.S. State Department and JPMorgan declined to comment.

Moscow had allowed the safe export of Ukraine grain via the Black Sea for the past year under a deal it quit on July 17. Russia has a list of demands it wants met before it will return to the arrangement.

Under a related pact – also brokered in July 2022 – U.N. officials agreed to help Russian food and fertilizer exports reach global markets.

“As soon as this is done, this deal will immediately be renewed,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday.

A key Russian demand has been the reconnection of the Russian Agricultural Bank to the SWIFT international payments system. It was cut off by the European Union in June 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Zakharov, the foreign ministry spokeswoman, said the West and the United Nations “tried to present (payment processing by JPMorgan) as a working alternative to SWIFT.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Thursday that Washington would continue to do “whatever is necessary” to ensure Russia can freely export food if the Black Sea grain deal was revived.

While Russian exports of food and fertilizer are not subject to Western sanctions imposed after Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has said restrictions on payments, logistics and insurance have hindered shipments.

  • Reuters