Emergency Food Supply

Black Sea Grain Initiative Extended for At Least 60 Days

On Saturday, the duration of the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative remained uncertain, but will be at least 60 days. Ukraine and Turkey say the extension will be 120 days, while Russia said it had agreed to a 60-day extension. After a meeting between a Russian delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin and UN officials, the UN Secretary-General expressed that the UN remains fully committed to the Black Sea Grain Initiative, as well as to efforts to facilitate the export of Russian food and fertilizer.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, brokered by Turkey and the UN in July 2022, allows Ukraine to export grain, related foodstuffs and fertilizer from three Black Sea ports through a maritime humanitarian corridor.[0] This is essential for global food security, especially for developing countries, as grain and fertilizer prices and availability have not returned to pre-war levels.

The agreement had been due to expire on March 18, but it was extended for 120 days following talks between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the extension was secured after talks with the two sides, without specifying the duration.[1]

Russia's 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 deal that it is extending the deal for 60 days.”

But Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the extension was for 120 days. He wrote on Twitter: “The #BlackSeaGrainInitiative agreement is extended for 120 days. Grateful to Antonio Guterres, the United Nations, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, [Defence] Minister Hulusi Akar and all our partners for sticking to the agreements.”[2]

The United Nations declared that it is essential to maintain the Black Sea Grain Initiative, since the prices and accessibility of grain and fertilizer have not gone back to what they were before the war, causing difficulties especially in less-developed nations.

The UN Secretary-General also said that the UN will do everything possible to preserve the integrity of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and ensure its continuity. Before the Initiative was agreed upon in late July 2022, Ukraine and other countries accused Russia of using hunger as a weapon by blockading Ukraine's Black Sea ports.[3]

0. “Note to correspondents on the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the Memorandum of Understanding with the Russian …” OCHA, 13 Mar. 2023, https://www.unocha.org/story/note-correspondents-black-sea-grain-initiative-and-memorandum-understanding-russian-federation

1. “Russia agrees to extend the Ukraine grain deal again” WBUR News, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.wbur.org/npr/1164538947/russia-ukraine-grain-deal-extended

2. “Black Sea grain deal extended, Turkey and Ukraine say” CNA, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/ukraine-invasion-turkey-still-hopeful-extension-grain-deal-3356446

3. “Russia Extends Black Sea Grain Deal” OilPrice.com, 17 Mar. 2023, https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Russia-Extends-Black-Sea-Grain-Deal.html

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