A deal allowing Ukraine to ship grain from its Black Sea ports was due 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 agreement was reached after talks with Russia and Ukraine, Erdogan said in a speech on Saturday in Canakkale, in the west of the country, but he did not specify the duration of the extension. OK.
Russia said it had agreed to a 60-day extension, while Ukraine’s infrastructure minister said the deal was extended for 120 days.
The agreement between the two warring parties, brokered in July by Turkey and the UN, saw more than 11 million tonnes of agricultural products shipped from three of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, including 4.5 million tonnes of maize and 3.2 million tons of wheat.
“This agreement is of vital importance for the global food supply,” Erdogan said in televised comments. “I thank Russia and Ukraine, who spared no effort for a new extension, as well as the Secretary General of the United Nations.”
Before the war, Ukraine was one of the world’s leading agricultural producers, and the so-called Black Sea Grain Initiative helped ease the global food crisis triggered by the conflict.
“Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of sunflower oil, as well as wheat and grains,” Al Jazeera’s Stephanie Dekker said, reporting from outside Kyiv. “What is produced here – and what is exported – has a direct effect on food prices around the world.”
The full-scale invasion of Russia in February last year saw Ukrainian Black Sea ports blockaded by warships.
But the grain deal allowed the safe passage of essential grain exports to tackle a global food crisis. The initial agreement was extended in November for 120 days.
Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the latest extension was for another 120 days. Ankara previously said it wanted a 120-day extension while Russia favored a 60-day extension.
Kubrakov thanked the UN and Turkey for joining the grain deal agreements.
“[The] The Black Sea Grain Initiative agreement is extended for 120 days,” Kubrakov said on Twitter. “Grateful to Antonio Guterres, to the United Nations, to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, [Defence] Minister Hulusi Akar and all our partners for honoring the agreement.
#BlackSeaGrainInitiative agreement is extended for 120 days. Grateful to @antonioguterres @AND, President Erdoğan, Minister Hulusi Akar and all our partners for respecting the agreements. Thanks to our joint efforts, 25 million tons of cereals🇺🇦 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 parties to the ‘grain deal’ that the deal has been extended for 120 days.
“We have repeatedly stated … that the Russian side has notified all parties to the agreement that it is extending the agreement for 60 days,” Zakharova said in remarks carried by the Interfax news agency.