Ukraine said Russia’s proposal to extend the wartime grain export agreement for 60 days contradicted the agreement between the two countries.
A Russian delegation announced on Monday that Moscow is ready to extend Ukraine’s grain export deal after talks with the United Nations – but only for another 60 days.
The United Nations said in a statement it “notes” Russia’s announcement on the extension and reaffirms its support for the agreement reached in July as part of “the global response to the worst cost of living crisis in a generation”.
Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the 60-day extension contradicted documents signed by the Turkish and UN guarantors, but he did not reject the proposal.
” [The grain] “The agreement includes at least 120 days of extension, and therefore Russia’s position to extend the agreement for only 60 days contradicts the document signed by Turkey and the United Nations,” Kubrakov said in a tweet on Twitter.
He added, “We are waiting for the official position of the United Nations and Turkey as guarantors of the initiative.”
The United Nations and Turkey brokered a deal between the warring countries in July that would allow Ukraine – one of the world’s most important breadbaskets – to ship food and fertilizer from three of its Black Sea ports.
The 120-day deal, which helped ease the blow of soaring global food prices, was renewed last November. That extension expires on Saturday and another 120-day extension was on the table.
Moscow was frustrated that a side deal to allow the export of Russian food and fertilizer, which is used around the world, resulted in little Russian fertilizer and no Russian grain at all.
Rebecca Greenspan, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and Martin Griffiths, Head of the United Nations Humanitarian Agency, hosted a team led by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin, at the United Nations offices in Geneva, Switzerland. .
“The in-depth and frank conversation confirmed once again that while the commercial export of Ukrainian products is proceeding at a steady pace, which brings great benefits to Kiev, restrictions on Russian agricultural exporters remain in place,” the Russian delegation said in a statement. statement. statement.
He claimed that “the exemptions from food and fertilizer sanctions announced by Washington, Brussels and London are basically ineffective.”
As part of the deal, Moscow wants to ship Russian ammonia via pipeline through Ukraine to Black Sea ports for possible export. Russian officials also say banking restrictions and high insurance costs have hurt their hopes of exporting fertilizer.
“We are doing everything we can to preserve the integrity of the agreement and ensure its continuation,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York after the talks.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said it was a “watershed moment” in negotiations for the deal, which Washington hopes to extend before it expires on March 18.
Price said the world needed the initiative, which he said allowed grain to be shipped to developing countries and helped lower food prices.
European traders said uncertainty surrounding the talks, particularly the statement that Russia was only asking for a 60-day extension, was a factor behind the price hike in the wheat market, Euronext in Paris.
Why is the agreement important?
Ukraine and Russia are the world’s largest suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other foodstuffs to countries in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia where millions of people do not have enough to eat. Russia was also the world’s largest exporter of fertilizer before the war.
The loss of these supplies, after Russia launched its all-out invasion in February 2022, has sent global food prices soaring and raised fears of a hunger crisis in poor countries.
The so-called Black Sea Grains initiative involves checking goods at sea by officials from the United Nations, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey to ensure that only foodstuffs are being transported, not foodstuffs and weapons.
The amount of grain leaving Ukraine decreased even as food continued to flow. Inspections of ships under the grain initiative have fallen sharply since they began rolling in in earnest in September, and ships have been turned away.