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Ukraine war: Uncertainty about extension of grain agreement


The grain deal between Russia and Ukraine expires this weekend. Both countries want to keep it in principle. However, they disagree about the duration of the extension. The UN is mediating under high pressure.

The United Nations is working on a solution shortly before extending the agreement on the export of Ukrainian grain. Everything will be done to ensure a continuation, and the parties involved are in contact with Russia, Ukraine and Turkey, said UN emergency aid coordinator Martin Griffiths on Friday before the UN Security Council in New York. The Grains Agreement is critical to global food security, Griffiths said.

The grain deal between Russia and Ukraine, which ensures the export of Ukrainian wheat across the Black Sea, expires this weekend. Although both countries have agreed in principle to extend the agreement, there are contradictory statements as to how many days the export should be approved.

Russia wants to authorize the export for only 60 more days, but the text provides for an automatic extension of 120 days unless either party objects. A change to the agreement, which would also include a new 60-day period, would have to be confirmed by all parties involved and cannot be announced unilaterally.

Moscow feels hampered by Western sanctions

A spokesman for the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure told the ARD studio in Kyiv said they would not comment until Monday.

After the war of aggression against Ukraine began a good year ago, the Russian Navy also blocked the neighboring country’s Black Sea ports. The agreement on the Black Sea Grain Initiative was mediated by the United Nations and Turkey in July 2022 and provides for the release of Ukrainian ports for grain exports, among other things.

Moscow feels hampered by Western sanctions in its own exports of grain and fertilizer. Although the sanctions do not target food exports, their existence makes it difficult for Russian actors to call at European ports, process payments and obtain insurance for their ships.

With information from Andrea Beer, ARD studio Kiev.

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Griffiths: Extend grain deals by any means necessary

Antje Passenheim, ARD New York, March 18, 2023 3:21 p.m