The Macomb Daily
Russia, Ukraine extend grain deal to aid world’s poor
>> An unprecedented wartime deal that allowed grain to flow from Ukraine to countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where hunger is a growing threat and high food prices are pushing more people into poverty was extended just before its expiration date, officials said Saturday.
The United Nations and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the extension, but neither confirmed how long it would last. The U.N., Turkey and Ukraine had pushed for 120 days, while Russia said it was willing to agree to 60 days. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov tweeted Saturday that the deal would remain in effect for the longer, four-month period. But Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Russian news agency Tass that Moscow “agreed to extend the deal for 60 days.”
“Any claim that it’s prolonged for more than 60 days is either wishful thinking or deliberate manipulation,” Russia’s deputy ambassador to the U.N., Dmitry Polyansky, said.
Ukraine and Russia are both major global suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other affordable food products that developing nations depend on. Two ships carrying more than 96,000 metric tons of corn left Ukrainian ports on Saturday bound for China and Tunisia, according to U.N. data.
This is the second renewal of the separate agreements that Ukraine and Russia signed with the United Nations and Turkey to allow food to leave the Black Sea region after Russia invaded its neighbor more than a year ago.
Russia has complained that shipments of its fertilizers — which its deal with Turkey and the U.N. was supposed to facilitate — are not getting to global markets, which has been an issue for Moscow since the agreement first took effect in August. It nonetheless was renewed in November for another four months.