An agreement that allowed Ukraine to ship grain from its Black Sea ports was set to expire on Saturday.
An agreement allowing the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, which was due to expire on Saturday, has been renewed, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the United Nations announced.
The deal was finalized after talks with Russia and Ukraine, Erdogan said in a speech in the western city of Canakkale on Saturday, but did not specify how long the deal was to be extended.
Russia said it had agreed to a 60-day extension, while Ukraine’s infrastructure minister said the deal had been extended by 120 days.
The agreement between the two parties in conflict, negotiated in July by Turkey and the UNhas seen more than 11 million tons of agricultural products shipped from three of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, including 4.5 million tons of corn and 3.2 million tons of wheat.
“This agreement is of vital importance for the world’s food supply,” Erdogan said in televised remarks. “I thank Russia and Ukraine, who spared no effort for a further extension, as well as the Secretary General of the United Nations.”
Before the war, Ukraine was one of the world’s top agricultural producers, and the so-called Black Sea Grains Initiative has helped alleviate global food shortages caused by the conflict.
“Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of sunflower oil, also wheat and cereals,” Al Jazeera’s Stephanie Dekker said, reporting from outside Kiev. “What is produced here, and what is exported, has a direct effect on food prices around the world.”
The large-scale invasion of Russia in February last year saw Ukraine’s Black Sea ports blocked by warships.
But the grain deal has allowed safe passage for exports of critical grain supplies to combat a world food crisis. The initial agreement was extended in November for 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 was in favor of a 60-day extension.
Kubrakov thanked the UN and Turkey for adhering to the agreements on the grain deal.
“(The) Black Sea Grain Initiative deal is extended for 120 days,” Kubrakov said on Twitter. “Grateful to Antonio Guterres, the United Nations, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, (Defense) Minister Hulusi Akar and all our partners for abiding by the agreement.”
#BlackSeaGrainInitiative The agreement is extended for 120 days. Grateful to @antonioguterres @AND, President Erdoğan, Minister Hulusi Akar and all our partners for sticking to the agreements. Thanks to our joint efforts, 25 million tons of grain 🇺🇦 delivered to world markets pic.twitter.com/4bye93iQ7d
— Oleksandr Kubrakov (@OlKubrakov) March 18, 2023
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “We are seeing reports from the parties to the ‘grain deal’ that the deal has been extended by 120 days.
“We have repeatedly stated… that the Russian side has notified all parties to the agreement that it will extend it for 60 days,” Zakharova said in remarks carried by the Interfax news agency.