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Black Sea grain deal extended

Ukraine says deal is extended 120 days; Russia says 60 days.

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Tom Fisk | PEXELS
Tom Fisk | PEXELS

A deal allowing Ukraine to export grain to world markets by ship despite Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea has been extended, the UN and the Ukrainian and Turkish governments said on Saturday.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, signed in July 2022, was designed to alleviate global food shortages by helping to export Ukrainian grain and fertilizer safely from three Ukrainian ports and was due to expire March 18.

According to reports, it was not specified how long the extension was for.

Russia said it had agreed to a 60-day extension, while Ukraine’s infrastructure minister said the deal had been extended for 120 days.

Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister responsible for infrastructure, said in a tweet that the agreement had been extended for 120 days.

“[The] Black Sea Grain Initiative agreement is extended for 120 days,” Kubrakov said on Twitter. “Grateful to Antonio Guterres, the United Nations, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, [Defence] Minister Hulusi Akar and all our partners for sticking to the agreement.”

Russian demands

According to Reuters, Russia laid out conditions on Monday for agreeing to any further extension of the Black Sea grain deal, and President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow could send free grain to African countries if those conditions were not met.

Russia's foreign ministry, in a statement posted on its website on Monday, said Moscow had decided to limit the extension of the deal to 60 days over what it called "a lack of progress... on normalization of domestic agricultural exports."

Russia said the deal's renewal in May would depend on certain conditions, including the restoration of access to the SWIFT financial messaging system for Russian state-owned agriculture-focused bank, a resumption of farm machinery supplies, and the unblocking of foreign assets and accounts held by Russian agricultural companies.

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