The Kremlin says Russia will extend the agreement allowing Ukraine to export grain through its Black Sea ports for another 60 days..
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s comments on March 17 came a day before the agreement was due to expire. The pact can only be extended with the agreement of Russia. Moscow had previously expressed displeasure with the deal and hinted it might not approve an extension.
It was not clear when an agreement on the extension would be signed. The United Nations Office in Geneva stated that talks were ongoing.
Before agreeing on the Black Sea Grains Initiative at the end of July 2022, Ukraine and other countries accused Russia of using hunger as a weapon by blocking Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea..
Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and the United Nations reached the agreement, which also paved the way for Russian food and fertilizer to reach global markets. The shipments are controlled by a joint coordination center in Istanbul, which includes representatives from Ukraine, Russia and Turkey.
Ukraine and Russia are the world’s largest suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other foodstuffs to those countries, and Russia was the world’s largest fertilizer exporter before invading Ukraine in February last year.
The agreement, which was extended for the first time for four months on November 17, provides for a safe shipping corridor in the Black Sea and inspection procedures to address concerns that grain cargo ships could carry weapons or be used to launch attacks.
Last month, the head of the United Nations Food Agency warned that failure to renew the agreement would be catastrophic as millions of people in Africa are on the brink of famine. The head of the World Food Program (WFP), David Beasley, claimed that grain flows under the agreement were still far below the needs of the poorest countries.