Black Sea grain initiative talks end in Istanbul, no decision on extension reached

12 May, 11:26 AM
The negotiations on the Black Sea grain initiative ended in Istanbul (Photo:REUTERS/Mehmet Emin Caliskan)

The negotiations on the Black Sea grain initiative ended in Istanbul (Photo:REUTERS/Mehmet Emin Caliskan)

Negotiations on extending the Black Sea grain initiative, which allows for limited food exports from Ukraine despite an ongoing Russian blockade, have ended with no decision reached, Ukraine’s Reconstruction and Development Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov wrote on Facebook on May 11.

“The United Nations and Turkey, as the signatories of the initiative, recognize its significance in maintaining global food security and insist on its sustainable operation,” he said.

“Therefore, they have proposed further discussions to unblock the initiative in an online format.”

According to Kubrakov, the Ukrainian delegation emphasized the importance of extending and expanding the grain initiative for a longer period to provide assurance and confidence to both the global and domestic markets.

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“But, first of all, it is necessary to resume registration of the incoming fleet and conduct inspections in accordance with the procedures of the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) without any unwarranted delays,” the minister said. The JCC failed to reach an agreement on issuing permits to new ships to participate in the Black Sea grain initiative on May 5. Ukrainian authorities have pointed at the finger at Russian participants in the initiative as the reason for the delays, accusing them of deliberately dragging their feet to damage Ukraine’s image.

On April 24, Russia’s 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 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.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has urged the United Nations to assist in the renewal of the grain agreement.

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