Illustrative photo – Grain warehouse in Ukraine on August 9, 2022.
Kyiv – Ukraine will ask Turkey and the United Nations this week to start talks on extending the so-called grain agreement, which is supposed to ensure the safe removal of grain from Russian-blocked Ukrainian Black Sea ports. Kyiv will request an extension of at least one year. The agreement should also include ports in Mykolaiv, Reuters reported today, citing Yuriy Vaskov, Ukraine's Deputy Minister of Transport.
It was the UN and Turkey that helped negotiate the agreement between Ukraine and Russia on the export of grain from Black Sea ports last July. It was extended last November, and if it is not extended again, it will expire on March 18.
“This week we will publish a formal proposal related to the need to work on extending the agreement,” Vaskov said. According to him, the exact date of the talks, which were previously held in Turkey, has not yet been determined. “We will ask… for an extension not for 120 days, but for at least one year, because the Ukrainian and the global agricultural market must be able to plan these volumes (of exports) in the long term,” he added.
Ukraine will according to him, also insist on increasing the number of inspection teams with the aim of “eliminating the accumulation of ships waiting for inspections”. Kiev has repeatedly accused Moscow of delaying inspections of ships carrying Ukrainian agricultural goods, leading to reduced shipments and losses for traders. Russia denies these allegations, saying that it fulfills all its obligations under the grain agreement.
Ukraine's Deputy Minister of Transport also said that the inspection situation has not changed since November, and only three inspection teams are operating on the Russian side. “There has been no positive progress. On the other hand, the UN, Turkey and Ukraine are ready to carry out 40 inspections per day if necessary. And such a need exists here, about 140 ships are waiting for inspection,” added Vaskov.