The United Nations on Thursday announced that the deal allowing Ukraine to export grain safely from its Black Sea ports despite Russia’s invasion has been extended.
It was set to expire at the weekend.
“The Black Sea Grain Initiative is extended for 120 days,” Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Olexandr Kubrakov tweeted.
UN Secretary general António Guterres welcomed the extension of the deal and expressed commitment to ensuring the smooth operation of the “vital supply line.”
He also emphasized the need to remove the remaining obstacles to exporting food and fertilizer from Russia.
“Both agreements signed in Istanbul three months ago are essential to bring down the prices of food and fertilizer and avoid a global food crisis,” Guterres said.
Russia’s war against Ukraine, which has disrupted food shipments because both countries are major agricultural exporters, has fuelled international fears of famine in the poorest countries.
According to Russia, however, the second agreement which focuses on Russia’s ability to export its goods is stalled due to Western sanctions.
Although the sanctions do not directly target these exports, their existence makes it difficult for Russian players to call at European ports, process payments and obtain insurance for their ships.
UN representatives discussed the problems on Friday in Geneva with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin.
Top European Union officials on Thursday cheered the extension of an UN-Turkey brokered deal.
According to the Grain Agreement Coordination Centre, eight ships left Ukrainian ports on Tuesday with wheat, corn, soybeans and rapeseed, among other commodities.
They set course for Italy, China, Ethiopia and Spain, among other countries.
Before the war, Russia and Ukraine supplied almost a quarter of the world’s grain exports.
Meanwhile, missile strikes have been reported across Ukraine by local officials, with the entire country on air raid alert for the second time this week amid a new salvo of Russian attacks. (dpa/NAN)