Ukrainian grain export deal extended for 120 days – POLITICO
A deal allowing Ukrainian grain exports to cross the blocked Black Sea has been extended for 120 days, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov announced on Saturday.
Kubrakov thanked “all our partners for sticking to the agreements,” said in a Tweeter Saturday afternoon. “Thanks to our joint efforts, 25 million tons of Ukrainian grain” were “delivered to world markets,” he said.
The announcement comes after a week of wrangling following Moscow’s announcement on Monday that it had agreed to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative, but only for 60 days – prompting immediate objections from Kyiv and reminders from the United Nations and Turkey that the initial agreement provided for a minimum extension of 120 days.
The deal – described by aid groups as a lifeline for food-insecure countries – was due to expire on Saturday.
Originally brokered by the UN and Turkey last July after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 fueled a global food crisis, the pact was extended in November by 120 days.
So far, some 24 million tons of Ukrainian goods have been transported under the initiative, amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s all-out war on Ukraine.
“We have started negotiations with the idea of extending the grain corridor for another 120 days in accordance with the initial version of the agreement,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in a statement on Wednesday. “The continuation of this is important. In this sense, we will continue our contacts for about 120 days instead of two months.
Although the Kremlin has not specified why it only wants to extend the deal for another 60 days, it has complained from the start that the initiative fails to remove obstacles to its own exports of fertilizers and foodstuffs – which the UN has agreed to facilitate for three years under a second agreement with Moscow last July.
The Kremlin says Western sanctions targeting fertilizer oligarchs and Russia’s main agricultural bank have hampered its fertilizer and food exports, arguing that these are responsible for food insecurity in the Global South.
Ukraine and Russia produce a significant share of the world’s grain and fertilizers, together supplying some 28% of the wheat traded globally and 75% of sunflower oil in peacetime.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) on Thursday called on the United Nations to negotiate a renewal of the agreement for a full 12 months, warning that this is necessary to “help fight hunger in the countries most affected by insecurity. eating”.
The number of people facing food insecurity has risen from 282 million at the end of 2021 to a record 345 million last year, according to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). Africa is one of the hardest hit regions, with East African countries like Somalia and Ethiopia in particular facing extreme famine.
“Grain shipments to the countries most in need, including Somalia, depend on the critical renewal of the Black Sea Grains Initiative,” the IRC said, adding that Somalia receives more than 90% of its grain from Ukraine.