English Section

Ukraine Black Sea grain deal prolonged for at least 60 days

18.03.2023 22:00
Ukraine and Russia have renewed a deal to export grain through the Black Sea, parties to the agreement said on Saturday.
Russia and Ukraine have renewed a deal to export grain through the Black Sea, parties to the agreement said on Saturday.
Russia and Ukraine have renewed a deal to export grain through the Black Sea, parties to the agreement said on Saturday.PAP/UKRINFORM/Yulii Zozulia

The United Nations and Turkey, who had brokered the deal in July 2022, said that it had been extended, the Reuters news agency reported.

Neither specified a time frame, according to news outlets.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the grain agreement had been extended for 120 days.

Russia has notified all participants in the Black Sea grain initiative that the deal has been extended for 60 days, according to Russian media outlet RBC, which cited foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova.

Black Sea grain initiative

The Black Sea grain pact, signed in July and renewed for a further 120 days in November, was set to expire on Saturday, the Reuters news agency noted.

So far, the deal has helped avert a global food crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and blockade of its Black Sea ports, according to Britain’s The Economist newspaper.

Ukraine has so far exported nearly 25 million tonnes of mainly corn and wheat under the deal, chiefly to China, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands, Reuters reported, citing UN officials.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement on Saturday: "The Black Sea Grain Initiative, alongside the Memorandum of Understanding on promoting Russian food products and fertilizers to the world markets, are critical for global food security, especially for developing countries."

Dujarric was referring to a three-year deal, also signed in July, in which the UN agreed to help Russia with its food and fertilizer exports, in a bid to help persuade Moscow to allow Ukraine to resume its Black Sea grain exports.

Both Ukraine and Russia are major global suppliers of food commodities, while Russia is also a key exporter of fertilizer, the Reuters news agency noted.

Russia’s threats

Western nations have imposed hard-hitting sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, according to news outlets.

Moscow is demanding that some of these punitive measures be lifted if the West wants the Ukraine Black Sea Grain to continue.

Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Friday that the European Union, the United States and Britain now "have two months to exempt from their sanctions the entire chain of operations which accompany the Russian agricultural sector," as cited by Reuters.

Nebenzia mentioned “allowing the Russian Agricultural Bank to return to the SWIFT banking system,” as well as “allowing the supply to Russia of agricultural machinery and spare parts” and the lifting of restrictions “on insurance and access to ports for Russian ships and cargo,” among other demands.

According to the UN, “progress has been made on facilitating Russian agricultural exports,” but  there are “still impediments, particularly in relation to payment systems.”

Dujarric said on Saturday that the UN remained “strongly committed” to implementing both the Ukraine Black Sea grain deal and the pact with Moscow and called on "all sides to redouble their efforts to implement them fully."

Saturday is day 388 of Russia’s war on Ukraine. 


Source: Reuters, The Economist, The Guardian, ukraine.un.org