A deal has been reached to keep Ukrainian grain exports flowing out of Odesa ports for at least two more months under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“With the efforts of our country, the support of our Russian friends and the contributions of our Ukrainian friends, it was decided to extend the Black Sea Grain Corridor Agreement for another 2 months. Good luck to the whole world,” Erdoğan said in a tweet Wednesday. “We will continue our efforts to ensure that all the conditions of the agreement are fulfilled and that it will continue in the next period.”
The initiative was renewed for the third time on March 19, but under a cloud of uncertainty. Ukraine and Turkey signed off on a traditional 120-day extension, but Russia agreed to only half that.
The breakthrough announced Wednesday by Erdoğan means the Russians have agreed to the full 120-day extension, said Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov.
Kubrakov lauded the agreement, stressing the importance of the initiative to global food security.
Ukraine was able to export more than 25 million metric tons of wheat, corn and other commodities during the first two terms of the initiative “to 45 countries, in over 1,600 voyages back and forth helping to bring down global food prices and stabilizing the markets,” according to the initiative’s Joint Coordination Center. “During the first two terms, the World Food Program has shipped over 481,000 metric tons of wheat in direct support of its humanitarian operations in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and Yemen.”
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The Joint Coordination Center, made up of representatives from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations, is responsible for inspecting vessels that enter and leave the Black Sea through the Bosporus Strait.
Those inspections have recently been curtailed by Russian inspectors, blocking Ukrainian grain exports, according to Ukrainian and UN officials. Moscow continues to complain about obstacles to its ability to export fertilizer, but UN officials are promising to help.
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