Russia says it will only extend the Black Sea grain corridor for 60 days, a decision that Ukraine says breaks the terms of the agreement.
Moscow made the announcement on March 13 following a visit from UN Secretary-General António Guterres to Kyiv last week amidst concerns that Russia will fail to renew the agreement for another 120 days once it ends on March 18.
Russia claims the decision is because its fertiliser exports and agricultural interests are not being taken into consideration, saying that after the recent discussion “barriers still remain in the way of Russian agricultural exporters.”
“Our further position will be determined depending on the real, not in words, but in deeds, progress in the normalisation of our agricultural exports, including bank payments, transport logistics, insurance, “unfreezing” of financial activities and the supply of ammonia through the Togliatti-Odessa pipeline,” the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated.
In response, the Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine, Oleksandr Kubrakov, said that Russia’s announcement “contradicts the document signed by Turkey and the UN”, which stipulate that the agreement involves at least 120 days of extension.
Currently, Ukraine is waiting for the official response from Ankara and the UN as the guarantors of the initiative. Turkey announced last week that it is “working hard” to renew the deal.
The initiative, brokered by the UN and Turkey, has seen the export of 24.1mn tonnes of grain from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and has helped stave off a devastating global food shortage. It was initially signed in July 2022 and extended in November, after Moscow backtracked on its threats to pull-out.
Both Guterres and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy expressed support for the continuation of the agreement, as it has lowered global food costs and “offered critical relief to people”, particularly in the Global South.