Russia agrees to extend the Black Sea grain deal for 60 days

Russia It agreed to extend Ukraine’s grain export pact after talks with the United Nations on Monday – but only for another 60 days.

Moscow said it wanted to see “concrete progress” on a parallel pact on Russian exports before the pact could be renewed again.

The grain export deal helped ease the global food crisis he sparked Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine in February last year. The invasion saw warships block Ukraine’s Black Sea ports until a deal signed in July allowed safe passage for crucial grain exports.

More than 24.1 million tons were exported under the UN-Turkey-brokered Black Sea Grains Initiative (BSGI), according to the UN.

The initial 120-day agreement was extended once in November and was set to expire on March 18. The Kremlin has questioned whether to agree to a new extension, claiming that the dual deal on Russian exports was not honored.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin said after concluding talks with senior UN officials at UN headquarters in Geneva that Moscow wanted to see “deeds, not words” on supporting this second part of the package.

“The Russian side … does not object to another extension of the ‘Black Sea Initiative’ after its second term expired on March 18, but only for a period of 60 days,” Vershinin said in a statement issued by the Russian mission in Geneva.

“Our further position will be determined based on tangible progress in normalizing our agricultural exports, no [in] words but in deeds. These include bank payments, transportation logistics, insurance, “unfreezing” of financial activities and supplies of ammonia through the Togliatti-Odessa pipeline.

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Vershinin led the Russian delegation in talks with UN humanitarian coordinator Martin Griffiths and Rebecca Greenspan, head of the UN trade and development agency UNCTAD.

While BSGI relates to the export of Ukrainian grain, the second agreement, between Moscow and the United Nations, aims to facilitate the export of Russian food and fertilizers, which are exempt from Western sanctions imposed on Moscow.

“The comprehensive and frank conversations 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,” said Vershinin.

“Exemptions from sanctions on foodstuffs and fertilizers announced by Washington, Brussels and London are basically ineffective.”

Nearly half of the exports shipped under the BSGI deal are corn and more than a quarter are wheat, according to UN data.

About 45% of exports went to developed countries. China was the biggest beneficiary, followed by Spain, Turkey, Italy and the Netherlands.

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