< /p> A grain warehouse in Ukraine, pictured on August 9, 2022.
Ankara/Moscow – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today announced the continuation of the agreement allowing the export of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports via the Black Sea. Erdogan did not specify by how many days the agreement with Russia and Ukraine is being extended, but according to Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, it is 120 days. Meanwhile, the UN spokesman confirmed the extension of the agreement, but he also did not specify by how many days. Moscow insists the deal will remain in place for another 60 days.
Kyiv, Turkey and the UN sought a 120-day extension, which is also the period for which the agreement was originally concluded and then extended once.
“The grain agreement was supposed to expire today. Thanks to talks that we led with both sides, we secured its extension,” Erdogan said in a speech in the western Turkish city of Çanakkale.
“Russia informed all participants of the agreement about its extension by 60 days,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marija Zakharova told the RBK server in response to comments from Kyiv about 120 days.
Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine and Minister of Infrastructure Kubrakov earlier on Twitter he wrotethat the agreement is extended by 120 days and thanked UN Secretary General António Guterres, Erdogan and other partners. “Thanks to our joint efforts, 25 million tons of Ukrainian grain were delivered to world markets,” he wrote.
According to the UN, 55 percent of this amount was intended for developing countries, the AP agency noted.
The agreement that the UN and Turkey brokered with Russia and Ukraine last July was extended in November with the aim of combating the global food crisis. This was fueled by the Russian invasion of Ukraine last February and the Russian blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports, Reuters noted.
In connection with Erdogan's statement, the Russian agency Interfax recalled that the spokesman of the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov, stated earlier this week that the continuation of the agreement was a gesture of goodwill that Moscow made in the hope that the provisions regarding Russia would also be fulfilled. The agreement takes the form of two documents – on safe corridors for ships leaving with grain from three Ukrainian ports and on the abolition of obstacles to the export of Russian food and fertilizers, Interfax added.
According to RIA Novosti, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, pointed out that Moscow will consider further extension of the grain agreement only in case of tangible progress in fulfilling obligations related to the export of Russian food and fertilizers to world markets. Extending the agreement beyond May 18 will require Rosselchozbank to be reconnected to SWIFT, to resume supplies of agricultural machinery to Russia, to lift insurance restrictions on Russian cargo ships, and to allow those vessels to enter ports, according to a Russian diplomat. for the pipeline transporting ammonia from Togliatti to Odessa to start working again and for the West to unblock the accounts and assets of Russian fertilizer producers.
Russia briefly withdrew from the grain arrangement last November, AP recalled. She pointed out that in the past few months, checks to ensure that the ships were only carrying grain and not weapons had slowed down. This led to a backlog of vessels waiting in Turkish waters and a drop in the amount of grain exported from Ukraine. Ukrainian and some US officials blame Russia for the slowdown, which the Russians deny.
While Russian fertilizer exports are stagnating, Russia is exporting huge amounts of wheat after a record harvest. Russian wheat exports more than doubled to 3.8 million tons in January from the same month a year ago, before the invasion, according to available data, according to the AP. Russian wheat supplies were at or near record highs in November, December and January, rising by nearly a quarter year-on-year, according to data provider Refinitiv. Russia is estimated to export approximately 44 million tons of wheat in 2022-2023, AP added.