Ukraine Grain Export Deal Extended 60 Days
PBB/Ankara (Reuters) —
The deal allowing Ukraine to safely export food grain across the Black Sea was extended for another 60 days on Saturday (18/3). However, the validity period of the deal was shorter than planned because Russia required the lifting of Western sanctions if the deal was to be extended beyond mid-May.
The agreement between Russia and Ukraine mediated by the United Nations (UN) and Turkey in July 2022 has been extended for 120 days in November. The aim of the deal is to address the food crisis resulting from the blockade of Black Sea shipping lanes following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
The term of the deal expires on Saturday, March 18.
The United Nations and Turkey said on Saturday that the validity period of the deal had been extended, but did not specify for how long. Ukraine said the validity period of export permits was extended by 120 days. However, Moscow only agreed to an extension for 60 days.
“The Black Sea Grain Initiative and the Memorandum of Understanding on the promotion of Russian food products and fertilizers to world markets are very important for food security, especially for developing countries,” said Stephane Dujarric, UN spokesperson, in a statement.
The process of unloading wheat on the MV Brave Commander anchored in Djibouti after sailing from Yuzhny Port in Ukraine, August 30, 2022. (Photo: ugh Rutherford/World Food Program/Handout via Reuters
Russia and Ukraine are among the world’s main food suppliers. Russia is also one of the world’s largest fertilizer exporters.
Minister of Agriculture of Ukraine Mykola Solsky said that Ukraine has supplied about 500 thousand tons of wheat for the UN food aid program. On Saturday, Ukraine insisted that the Black Sea grain export license had been extended by 120 days. Ukraine even emphasized that the extension of the grain export validity period was an opportunity to help those in need and “save the world from hunger.”
Repeal of Sanctions
While Russia’s exports of food and fertilizer have not been sanctioned by Western countries as a result of its invasion of Ukraine, Moscow says restrictions on payment systems, logistics and the insurance industry are hindering the delivery of goods.
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Friday that the European Union, the United States (US) and the UK now “have two months to exclude the entire Russian agricultural sector chain of operations,” if they want the Sea grain deal. Black Ukraine continues.
Grain storage in Odesa port after restarting exports amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, August 19, 2022. (Photo: Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)
In a letter to UN officials on March 16 and sent to Twitter on Saturday, Nebenzia made it clear that Moscow wants a settlement. The settlement demanded was to allow the Agricultural Bank of Russia to return to the international banking system, SWIFT, and to allow the supply of agricultural machinery and spare parts to Russian agriculture.
Nebenzia added that restrictions on insurance and access to various ports for Russian ships and cargo should be lifted. The pipeline carrying Russian ammonia to the Black Sea port in Ukraine must be reopened and the blockade of the accounts and financial activities of Russian fertilizer companies must be lifted.
Dujarric said Saturday that the United Nations is firmly committed to implementing Ukraine’s Black Sea grain deal and the deal with Moscow. He also urged “all parties to redouble their efforts to fully implement the agreement.”
According to UN data, to date, Ukraine has exported 25 million tons of grain, mostly corn and wheat under the agreement. The main destinations for Ukraine’s grain exports are China, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands. [ft]