Extension of Ukraine Black Sea Grain Deal for Two More Months

Just a day before its expiration Ukraine grain deal has been extended for two months.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the extension of the UN-backed “Ukraine black sea grain deal” for two months in his televised speech on 17th May. President Erdogan thanked all the parties of the deal including Russia, Ukraine, and the United Nations for all their effort to agree on an extension. Turkey is also a signatory of this deal.

Deputy Minister of Ukraine Oleksander Kubrakov said Kyiv is grateful to its partners for their best efforts in strengthening food security. Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed the extension of the deal and said it would help countries in need. Last week officials from Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, and United Nations which make up Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) met in Istanbul for a discussion about the black sea grain deal and its exigency shortly. And this extension is the result of this meeting in Istanbul.

Ukraine grain deal is the pact between Russia and Ukraine brokered by Turkey and United Nations which allows Ukrainian ships to export grain and important fertilizers from its Black Sea ports to the global market. This deal came into effect when all the signatories of the deal gathered in Istanbul, Turkey in July 2022. Since then, more than 30 million tonnes of grain have been shipped from Ukraine under the Ukraine grain deal to the poorer countries and the countries dealing with food insecurity.

The price of food grains has shot up since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the supply chain has been disrupted. Russia blocked Ukraine grain exports from crucial Black Sea ports, Odessa, Chornomorsk, Kherson, etc. West and Kyiv both accused Russia of Weaponizing food supplies. Many countries have been affected more severely because of their complete reliance on imported food grains.

Ukraine was 5th largest exporter of wheat and accounts for 7% of global exports before the Russian invasion in February last year. The blockade on this export has lead to severe food crises around the world. The agreement over extending the deal will boost food security and also support the Ukrainian economy as Ukraine is a major exporter and its economy heavily relies on exports. This will also help in bringing down the global food price further.

Russia had threatened many times to pull out of the agreement if its list of demands was not met. In November last year, Russia withdrew from the deal temporarily. Russia accused Ukraine of attacking its fleet in the Crimean Peninsula, but Russia re-joined the deal after a few days.

West has imposed various sanctions against Russia after it invaded Ukraine but exports of food grains and fertilizers have not been sanctioned. The United States claimed that the Russian export of fertilizers & grain has not been affected. This came after Moscow complained restriction on payment and logistics have created hurdles in shipment. Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman said distortion in the implementation of the assessment of the Istanbul agreement needs to be corrected very quickly.

This is not a long-term solution as this will end after two months but this agreement will help many African, West Asian, and Latin American countries to avoid the risk of food insecurity and mass hunger.

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