United Nations – After intense negotiations and multiple shuttle trips to Kiev, Moscow and Istanbul by UN officials, including the Secretary-General, Russia has agreed to an extension of the so-called Black Sea Grain Initiative.
The deal, which would have allowed the continued export of vital grain supplies from Ukraine, was due to expire on Saturday evening. Shipments from Ukraine are an essential part of the food supply for countries ranging from North Africa to the Middle East to South Asia. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest grain exporters, and typically supplies about 45 million tons of grain, according to the United Nations.
“The initiative allows for the facilitation of safe navigation for the export of grain and related foodstuffs and fertilizers, including ammonia, from designated seaports in Ukraine,” UN Secretary-General’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement. “During the first two periods, nearly 25 million metric tons of grain and foodstuffs were moved to 45 countries, helping to lower global food prices and stabilize markets.”
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine just over a year ago, shipments suddenly stopped, sending prices skyrocketing and millions starving. Under the UN-brokered deal, grain shipments resumed in July and the deal was extended last November.
But because of the war and Russia’s complaints about fertilizer exports, extending the Russian contract was called into question.
“Continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative is crucial for global food security, as the prices and availability of grains and fertilizers have not returned to pre-war levels, creating difficulties particularly in developing countries,” the UN said on Monday.
Even with the deal in place, how long the deal would be extended has sparked controversy and delayed the extension until the 11th hour — and remains “unclear,” a source close to the negotiations told CBS News.
On Saturday, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister of Reconstruction and Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov tweeted that the initiative had been extended for 120 days, as Ukraine had asked for. Russian UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia told the Security Council on Friday that Russia had told Turkey and Ukraine that they would agree to 60 days.
After talks in Geneva last week between Russian and UN representatives, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin announced on Monday that Russia was “ready to accept” a 60-day extension to see if progress could be made on Russian exports. Food and fertilizer, after casting doubts last week before any renewal.
In Geneva on Monday, UN Conference on Trade and Development Secretary-General Rebecca Greenspan and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths met with a Russian delegation led by the Deputy Foreign Minister. the minister
Discussions focused on the Black Sea Grain Initiative – which involves Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations – and an agreement between Russia and the United Nations to facilitate Russian food and fertilizer exports.
“The two agreements have had a positive impact on global food security, with millions of tonnes of grain reaching global markets,” UN humanitarian agency officials said in a statement.
The agreement is critical to the United Nations humanitarian agency’s efforts to help alleviate growing food crises in some of the world’s poorest parts. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the deal “contributed to reducing global food costs and provided critical relief to people who are paying a high price for this war, particularly in the developing world.”
Thanking Turkey for co-sponsoring the agreement, the United Nations said the Black Sea Grain Initiative, along with a memorandum of understanding on promoting Russian food products and fertilizers to the world market, is “important for global food security, especially for developing countries.”