The Dallas Morning News
Date to renew grain deal nears
Moscow’s proposal of shorter extension not sufficient, Kyiv argues
GENEVA — A Russian delegation at talks with senior U.N. officials said Monday that Moscow is ready to accept an extension to a grain export deal that has helped bring down global food prices amid the war with Ukraine — but only for 60 days as the Kremlin holds out for changes to how the arrangement is working.
The United Nations said it “notes” the Russian announcement and reaffirmed its support for the deal struck in July as “part of the global response to the most severe costof-living crisis in a generation.”
The U.N. and Turkey brokered the deal between the two warring countries that allows Ukraine — one of the world’s key breadbaskets — to ship food and fertilizer from three of its Black Sea ports.
The 120-day agreement, which helped take some of the sting out of rising global food prices, was renewed last November. That extension expires Saturday, and another 120-day extension was on the table. Ukraine charged Monday that the Russian proposal to extend it only for 60 days goes against the deal, which leaves the door open for any of the parties to terminate or modify it.
“The U.N. Secretary-general has confirmed that the U.N. will do everything possible to preserve the integrity of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and ensure its continuity,” a U.N. statement said. It stressed that the deal had paved the way for the export of 24 million tons of grain and more than 1,600 trips by vessels through the Black Sea.
Moscow has been frustrated that a parallel agreement to allow exports of Russian food and fertilizer, which is used across the globe, has only resulted in a trickle of Russian fertilizer getting out, and no Russian grain at all.
As part of the arrangement, Moscow wants Russian ammonia to be fed through a pipeline across Ukraine to Black Sea ports for possible export. Russian officials also say banking restrictions and high insurance costs have hurt their hopes of exporting fertilizer.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov argued that “Russia’s position to extend the deal only for 60 days contradicts the document” envisaging an extension of at least 120 days and added that Kyiv was waiting for the official positions of the U.N. and Turkey.