The agreement that allows Ukraine to export grains from key Black Sea ports has been renewed, although uncertainty surrounds the duration of the latest extension.
Ukraine Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Saturday that the pact will be extended for another 120 days, the same length as its previous two terms. The deal would only be extended for 60 days despite claims by Russian officials this week.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that the agreement had been renewed without comment on its duration. A UN secretary-general said in a statement that the initiative has been extended, without giving a timeline.
A Turkish official who declined to be identified said the extension was only for 60 days. A Kremlin spokesman didn't respond immediately to a request for comment.
Since it was first brokered by the UN and Turkey in July, the Black Sea Grain Initiative has enabled more than 24 million tons of crop shipments from Ukraine. That slowed food-commodity costs that had soared to a new record after Russia s invasion disrupted trade flows.
Negotiations over the duration came to an end after the deal was due to expire on Saturday. The initial pact was valid for 120 days and then renewed in November until mid-March.
Kubrakov said that the ability to export more will help to remove inflationary risks, as well as social tensions in many countries of the world.
Ukraine's harvests have been battered by the war but it is still an agricultural heavyweight and ranks among the world s top shippers of staples from sunflower oil to wheat and corn.
The large volumes exported through the grain corridor are vital in order to prevent a global hunger crisis and to reduce pressure on inflation. The agreement for the grain corridor was going to end as of today, Erdogan said at an event in Gallipoli. We have been able to extend it as a result of negotiations with both parties. The stability of the agreement is of vital importance. As part of the deal, teams from Ukraine, Russia, the UN and Turkey inspect each ship to make sure they don't move in or out of the ship. Ukrainian traders and authorities have said Russia is deliberately slowing the pace. Ukrainian farmers' incomes have been hurt and costs for traders have been raised.
The US blames Russia for the slowdowns, while Moscow has said the backlog is artificially created by Ukrainian companies.
With assistance from Firat Kozok and ine Quinn.