The agreement between Russia and Ukraine for the shipment of cereals via maritime routes through Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea has been extended for an additional two months, one day before the deadline imposed by the Russian government due to obstacles in their cereal and fertilizer exports. The news was announced by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in a televised speech and was later confirmed by Russia, Ukraine, and the United Nations, as reported by Reuters.
Over the past few days, the flow of bulk carrier ships through the established humanitarian maritime corridor from the ports of Chornomorsk, Odessa, and Yuzhny had been halted due to the Russian threat of not extending the agreement beyond May 18th.
The agreement between Russia and Ukraine, sponsored by the United Nations (UN) and Turkey, was initially signed in July 2022 for a period of 120 days and was renewed in November for the same duration. However, during the negotiations for the second extension last month, Moscow seemed unwilling to reach an agreement unless certain demands regarding their own agricultural exports were met.
Although these food and fertilizer exports are not subject to the Western sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian government claimed that restrictions on payments, logistics, and insurance had hindered their transportation. However, the United States does not accept Russia’s complaints, and its ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, stated last week that they were “exporting grains and fertilizers at the same, if not higher, levels than before the invasion.”
Ukraine also welcomed this agreement, but a high-ranking official pointed out that Russia should not be allowed to use food “as a weapon and a form of blackmail” and sabotage it again.
The Black Sea Agreement has facilitated the exportation of approximately 30.3 million tons of cereals and food products from Ukraine, including a total of 625,000 tons shipped on vessels of the World Food Program for aid operations in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Yemen.