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335926

Russia links extension of Black Sea deal to freeing its grain and fertilizer exports

This content was produced in Russia where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.

MOSCOW, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Russia said on Wednesday it still saw no progress on easing its exports of fertilizers and grain - parts of the Black Sea grain deal that Moscow views as fundamental to extending the initiative beyond next week.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters the United States and European Union were obstructing Russia's exports and said it remained unclear whether Moscow would extend its participation in the initiative, which expires on Nov. 19.

"The U.S. and the EU continue to put up obstacles to the export of Russian fertilizers and grain. We will take this into account when deciding whether to extend the grain deal," she said.

Russia agreed to a deal brokered by the United Nations in Turkey in July that allowed Ukraine, a major grain exporter, to resume exports through Black Sea ports that Russian warships had blockaded.

But Moscow complains that its own grain and fertilizer exports, though not directly targeted by Western sanctions, are effectively blocked because the sanctions affect insurance, port access and other key logistics.

Russia suspended its participation in the grain deal on Oct. 29, blaming a Ukrainian drone attack on its Black Sea fleet, but returned to it four days later after mediation by Turkey's president. (Reporting by Reuters. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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