Russian Ambassador to Bangladesh Alexander Mantytskiy on Thursday said his country and Bangladesh are working out modalities to keep transactions and trade uninterrupted, avoiding SWIFT system following the Ukraine crisis.

He said different options are being considered, including swap of national currencies and usage of third country's banks but did not want to go into the details of this work.

The Russian ambassador made the remarks at a press conference at the Russian Club highlighting Bangladesh-Russia economic cooperation and its development.

The press conference titled "One month of the Russia's special military operation in Ukraine: causes and results. The world of post-truth" covered five key areas - the background of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Russia's diplomatic efforts aimed at avoiding the conflict, the results of the Russia's special military operation, role of the West in the militarization and Nazification of Ukraine, economic consequences of the conflict and Russia-Bangladesh relations in a new reality.

Responding to a question on Bangladesh's voting at the UNGA on March 2, the Russian envoy said they highly appreciate Bangladesh's "responsible and balanced" attitude towards the resolution.

"We express our gratitude to the Bangladeshi side for its neutral position taken despite the enormous external pressure during the said voting," he said.

The ambassador said Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen very specifically defined the motives behind Bangladesh's abstention. "So, I have nothing more to add."

Rooppur NPP to be implemented as scheduled

Responding to a question Mantytskiy said construction of the Rooppur NPP is on schedule and the project will be implemented in accordance with previously approved plans. "All operations are being carried out on schedule."

In 2021, he said, the dome of the inner containment was assembled at Unit 1, the reactor vessel and reactor plant equipment were installed, in February of this year while welding of the reactor coolant pipeline was completed.

Deaerator has been installed in the machine room and installation of the polar crane was completed at Unit 2 in November 2021, said the Ambassador, adding that the reactor vessel and steam generators are scheduled to be mounted by the end of the year.

Construction of a training centre for the operational personnel of the Rooppur NPP is at its final stage, he said.

Active work is currently underway on the installation of the key thermal and mechanical, electrical equipment and process pipelines, said the Russian envoy.

Possible Disruption

With respect to a question concerning possible disruption of Russia's export of commodities such as natural gas and wheat, the ambassador said the Russian Federation as a responsible party of different trade accords, including deals with Bangladesh, is committed to fully exercising its obligations under the agreements.

He said recently India announces its plan to buy more Russian oil despite threats, adopting pragmatic approach to ensure energy security.

Due to "politically motivated" action many Western companies have chosen to quit the Russian market and left huge niche that can be filled by Bangladeshi companies and goods, said Mantytskiy.

"For example, ready-made garment and medical/pharmaceutical products. Some of your agricultural crops are also welcome in Russia," he said.

As far as increasing energy prices and as a consequence of its price hike for commodities are concerned, the ambassador said they admit that this is inevitable process caused by those who impose "illegal sanctions" against Russia, who disrupted logistics chain and caused great buzz on markets all over the world.

He said the latest sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus sent global prices for fertilizer soaring to an all-time high.

Energy prices have been soaring amid EU plans to cut reliance on Russian oil and gas supplies and bans imposed by the US and a couple of other countries, said the Russian envoy.

Regarding recent missile attack on a Bangladeshi ship MV Banglar Samriddhi and subsequent killing of its third engineer Hadisur Rahman, the Ambassador said they have not received any information about this accident as of now.

One of the reasons is that the Ukrainian nationalist battalions are still controlling the city of Nikolayev which hampers the establishment of circumstances of this tragedy, he said.

Moreover, there are reliable reports that inner anchorages of the Ukrainian sea ports, including Olvia, are heavily mined, said the Ambassador.

The Russian envoy said this week US President Joe Biden said the Russian president may be considering using biological or chemical weapons in Ukraine which is a" blatant lie" and attempt to manipulate public opinion.

"Our country has destroyed all chemical weapons stockpiles, while the United States remains the only country party to the Chemical Weapons Convention of 13 January 1997 (CWC), which still possesses and patents various inventions, associated with the use of full-fledged combat poisoning agents, including a nerve-paralytic effect," he said.

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