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Russia says will approve ‘only 60-day extension’ of Ukraine grain deal

Russia does not object to another extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative “but only for 60 days,” the deputy foreign minister said.

The deal was set to complete its second term on March 18.

Sergey Vershinin’s remarks on Monday came in a statement following a Russian delegation meeting with UN Conference on Trade and Development Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan and UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths.

“Our further stance will be determined upon the tangible progress on normalization of our agricultural exports, not in words, but in deeds,” Vershinin said. 

“It includes bank payments, transport logistics, insurance, ‘unfreezing’ of financial activities and ammonia supplies via the ‘Tolyatti-Odessa’ pipeline.”

Noting that sides also discussed the memorandum of understanding between Russia and the UN to facilitate unimpeded exports of food and fertilizer, Griffiths expressed – according to a UN statement – that the UN remains “fully committed” to the Black Sea Grain Initiative, as well as to efforts to facilitate the export of Russian food and fertilizer.

The UN will do “everything possible” to preserve the integrity of the grain deal and ensure its continuity, he confirmed.

The statement underlined that the two agreements have had “a positive impact” on global food security, with millions of tons of grain reaching global markets.

The grain initiative has allowed the exports of 24 million metric tons of grains and over 1,600 secure vessel voyages through the Black Sea with 55% of food exports going to developing countries, it said.

So, the continuation of the deal “is crucial for global food security,” it said, “as grain and fertilizer prices and availability have not returned to pre-war levels, causing hardship particularly in developing countries.”

Last July, Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports which were paused after the Russia-Ukraine war began in February 2022. The deal was extended for 120 days in November.

Can Türkiye salvage Ukraine-Russia grain deal? 

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