March 23, 2023

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The United Nations and Turkey: extending the agreement to export Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea | News of the war between Russia and Ukraine

An agreement allowing Ukraine to ship grain from its Black Sea ports expires on Saturday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the United Nations announced that an agreement allowing Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea, which was due to expire on Saturday, had been renewed.

Erdogan said in a speech in the western city of Canakkale on Saturday that the agreement was concluded after talks with Russia and Ukraine, but did not specify how long the agreement would be extended.

Russia said it agreed to an extension by 60 days, while Ukraine’s infrastructure minister said the agreement was extended by 120 days.

The agreement between the warring parties, brokered by Turkey and the United Nations in July, saw more than 11 million tonnes of agricultural products shipped from Ukraine’s three Black Sea ports, including 4.5 million tonnes of corn and 3.2 million tonnes of wheat.

“This deal is of vital importance to the global food supply,” Erdogan said in televised remarks. “I thank Russia and Ukraine, who did not spare their efforts for the new extension, and I also thank the Secretary-General of the United Nations.”

Before the war, Ukraine was one of the world’s largest plantation producers, and the so-called Black Sea Grain Initiative helped calm a global food crisis sparked by the conflict.

“Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of sunflower oil, as well as wheat and grain,” Al Jazeera’s Stephanie Decker said, reporting from the outskirts of Kiev. “What is produced here – and what is exported – has a direct impact on food prices around the world.”

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Russia’s all-out invasion in February last year saw warships block Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

But the grain deal allowed safe passage for exports of grain supplies needed to tackle the global food crisis. The initial agreement in November was extended by 120 days.

Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the latest extension was for another 120 days. Ankara had previously said it wanted a 120-day extension while Russia supports a 60-day extension.

Kubrakov thanked the United Nations and Turkey for their commitment to the agreements on the grain deal.

“[The] “The Black Sea Grain Initiative agreement has been extended by 120 days,” Kubrakov said on Twitter. Grateful to Antonio Guterres, United Nations, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, [Defence] Minister Hulusi Akar and all our partners for their commitment to the agreement.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “We are seeing reports from the parties to the ‘grain deal’ that the agreement will be extended for 120 days.

“We have repeatedly said … that the Russian side has notified all parties to the deal that it is extending the agreement for 60 days,” Zakharova said in remarks reported by the Interfax news agency.