Ukraine’s agreement on grain from the Black Sea was extended for another two months, one day before Russia could have left the pact by the obstacles to its exports of cereals and fertilizers.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced the extension in a televised address and it was confirmed by Russia and Ukraine.
The flow of ships through the corridor had come to a standstill in recent days as the deal was apparently due to expire on Thursday.
“The agreement on the Black Sea grain corridor has been extended for two months thanks to the efforts of Turkey,” said Erdogan, who also thanked the Russian and Ukrainian leaders and UN Secretary General António Guterres for their help.
In July of last year, the United Nations and Turkey negotiated the Black Sea agreement for a initial period of 120 days to help cope with the global food crisis, exacerbated by the invasion of Ukraine, one of the world’s leading grain exporters, by Moscow.
Initially, Moscow did not seem willing to extend the pact unless a list of requirements relating to their own agricultural exports.
“This is an opportunity to help ensure global food security, not with words, but with deeds. Above all, to help the countries most in need,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said when confirming the extension. “Our assessment of principle of the Istanbul agreements of July 22, 2022 has not changed and distortions in your application should be corrected as soon as possible”, he added.
While Russian food and fertilizer exports are not subject to Western sanctions imposed after the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Moscow says restrictions on payments, logistics and insurance have posed a barrier to shipments.
Russia’s envoy to the UN said the deal was extended because “we have not yet given up hope” that the problems with Russian exports will be “resolved.”
Ukraine welcomed the extension, but a senior official said Russia must not be allowed to sabotage the deal and must stop using food “as a weapon and blackmail”.
By early Wednesday, the last ship registered to travel through the corridor had left a Ukrainian port.
Officials from Russia, Ukraine, Türkiye and the UN form a Joint Coordination Center (CCC) in Istanbul, which implements the Black Sea Export Agreement. They authorize and inspect the vessels. Since May 4, the CCM has not authorized any new vessels.
Authorized vessels are inspected by JCC officials near Turkey before traveling to a Ukrainian Black Sea port, through a maritime humanitarian corridor to collect their cargo and return to Turkish waters for a final inspection.
Some 30.3 million tons of cereals and food products have been exported from Ukraine under the Black Sea deal, including 625,000 tons in World Food Program ships for relief operations in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Yemen. .
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