A Ukrainian minister said the 60-day extension contradicted documents signed by guarantors Turkey and the United Nations.
Ukraine said Russia’s proposal to extend the wartime grain export pact for 60 days contradicted the agreement between the two countries.
A Russian delegation announced on Monday that Moscow is ready to extend Ukraine’s grain export deal after talks with the United Nations – but only for another 60 days.
The United Nations said in a statement that it “notes” the Russian announcement on the extension and reaffirmed its support for the deal struck in July as “part of the global response to the most severe cost of living crisis in a generation”.
Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the 60-day extension contradicted documents signed by guarantors Turkey and the United Nations, but he did not reject the proposal.
“[The grain] “The agreement includes at least 120 days of extension, and therefore Russia’s position of extending the agreement for only 60 days contradicts the document signed by Turkey and the United Nations,” Kubrakov said in a tweet on Twitter.
He added, “We are waiting for the official position of the United Nations and Turkey as guarantors of the initiative.”
The United Nations and Turkey brokered a deal between the warring countries in July allowing Ukraine – one of the world’s most important breadbaskets – to ship food and fertilizer from three of its Black Sea ports.
The 120-day agreement, which helped cushion the blow of soaring global food prices, was renewed last November. That extension expires on Saturday, and another 120-day extension was on the table.
Moscow was frustrated that a parallel deal to allow the export of Russian food and fertilizer, which is used around the world, resulted in little Russian fertilizer leaving and no Russian grain at all.
Rebecca Greenspan, Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and Martin Griffiths, Head of the United Nations Humanitarian Agency, hosted a team led by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin at the United Nations offices in Geneva, Switzerland.
“The comprehensive and frank conversation confirmed once again that while the commercial export of Ukrainian products is taking place at a steady pace, bringing significant profits to Kiev, restrictions on Russian agricultural exporters remain in place,” the Russian delegation said in a statement. statement.
And it claimed that “the exemptions from sanctions imposed on foodstuffs and fertilizers announced by Washington, Brussels and London are basically ineffective.”
As part of the deal, Moscow wants to feed Russian ammonia through a pipeline through Ukraine to Black Sea ports for possible export. Russian officials also say banking restrictions and high insurance costs have hurt their hopes of exporting fertilizer.
“We are doing everything we can to maintain integrity and ensure the continuity of the agreement,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York after the talks.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said it was a “defining moment” in negotiations for the deal, which Washington hopes to extend before it expires on March 18.
Price said the world needed the initiative, which he said allowed grain to be shipped to developing countries and helped lower food prices.
European dealers said uncertainty about the talks, particularly the statement that Russia only sought a 60-day extension, was a factor behind price spikes in Euronext’s Paris wheat market.
Why is the deal important?
Ukraine and Russia are major global suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other foodstuffs to countries in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia where millions of people do not have enough to eat. Russia was also the world’s largest exporter of fertilizer before the war.
The loss of these supplies, after Russia launched its all-out invasion in February 2022, has sent global food prices soaring, and raised fears of a hunger crisis in poor countries.
The so-called Black Sea Grain Initiative involves sea checks of goods by UN, Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish officials to ensure that only foodstuffs are being transported – not weapons.
The amount of grain leaving Ukraine has fallen even as food continues to flow. Inspections of ships under the grain initiative have dropped sharply since it began in earnest in September, and ships have been backed up.
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