Black Sea grain deal extended by two months

17 May, 08:55 PM
Grain deal extended for two months (Photo:REUTERS/Mehmet Emin Caliskan)

Grain deal extended for two months (Photo:REUTERS/Mehmet Emin Caliskan)

Just as it was about to expire, the Black Sea Grain Agreement has been extended for a further two months, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a Telegram post on May 17.

"With the efforts of our country, the support of our Russian friends, and the contribution of our Ukrainian friends, a decision has been made to extend the Black Sea Grain Corridor Agreement for another 2 months," the message reads.

According to Erdogan, the Russian side promised not to obstruct the departure of Turkish vessels from Ukrainian ports of Mykolaiv and Olvia.

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"I wish for this decision, which has vital importance for the uninterrupted operation of global food supply chains and especially for facilitating access to grain for countries in need, to be beneficial for all parties," the president added.

Erdogan also thanked Ukrainian President Zelenskyy for "constructive cooperation" and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for "efforts in this process."

According to the Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, the agreement will remain in force until July 18.

"It should be noted that the Grain Initiative was and remains valid, as its term was extended by 120 days until July 18; as of today, 30.4 million tons of agricultural products have already been delivered to meet the world’s needs," Kubrakov said.

He emphasized that since mid-April, Russia was obstructing and ultimately stalling the grain corridor’s operation, refusing to register new fleets and inspect ships bound for Ukrainian ports.

“Around 70 vessels are currently waiting in the territorial waters of Turkey, 90% of which are ready to deliver the products from our farmers to the world,” the minister adds.

“We welcome the extension of the initiative but emphasize that it must work effectively. To do this, we need to eliminate problems that Russia has been creating for several months through ​​sabotaging inspections and registering new fleets.”

Recently, tensions have been rising between Russia and Ukraine over the grain agreement. On April 24, Russian Defense Ministry accused Ukraine of violating the agreement by attacking Sevastopol (in occupied Crimea) with naval drones, allegedly launched from the port of Odesa. Russia, which has routinely sought to undermine the agreement in the past, has warned of a potential threat to the deals’ extension beyond May 18.

In response, Ukrainian Military Intelligence spokesperson Andriy Yusov denied the accusations, saying that any Ukrainian operations in Crimea are focused on exclusively military targets.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, mediated by the UN and Turkey in July 2022, unblocked three Ukrainian Black Sea ports for food exports, relieving the pressure on global food supply.

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