Russia has agreed to a 60-day extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative – just half of the 120-day term that was originally agreed to in last year's deal that allowed Ukraine to export wheat and corn through its Odesa ports.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin said Moscow is still not satisfied with Russia’s ability to export fertilizer under a separate deal that was signed along with the initiative in July.
The Russian announcement came Monday after talks held between representatives of Moscow and the United Nations in Geneva. The UN acknowledged Russia’s agreement to the shorter extension, but a spokesman did not say if it would be accepted by the UN, Ukraine or Turkey.
The Monday meeting was only between UN and Russian officials and those talks are over, but UN Secretary General António Guterres remains in contact with all parties in the Black Sea Grain Initiative – Russia, Ukraine and Turkey – UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Tuesday.
The initiative could expire after the upcoming March 18 deadline if called for by Russia, Ukraine or Turkey.
“The UN Secretary-General has confirmed that the UN will do everything possible to preserve the integrity of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and ensure its continuity,” the UN said. “The continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative is crucial for global food security, as grain and fertilizer prices and availability have not returned to pre-war levels, causing hardship particularly in developing countries.”
Ukraine has exported 24 million metric tons of grain on more than 1,600 ships under the Initiative, according to the UN.
This story was updated to include comments by a United Nations spokesman.