Ukraine: Erdogan announces extension of grain deal

An expected speech

Ukraine: Erdogan announces extension of grain deal

An expected speech. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday March 18 the extension of the international agreement on the export of Ukrainian cereals, during a televised speech, without specifying the duration. Welcoming this announcement, the Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure, Oleksandr Kubrakov, for his part, indicated that the agreement was extended by 120 days.

"The Black Sea Grain Initiative is extended for 120 days. We thank Antonio Guterres, the United Nations, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, (Turkish Defense Minister) Hulusi Akar, and all our partners for confirming this agreement,” he tweeted. "Following talks with both parties (Ukraine and Russia), we ensured the extension of the agreement which was to end on March 19," the Turkish head of state had previously said. Ankara previously said it hoped for a 120-day extension while Russia insisted on 60 days. “This agreement is of vital importance to the global food supply. I thank Russia and Ukraine who have spared no effort for a further extension of the agreement, as well as the Secretary General of the United Nations,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

An announcement rectified by Moscow, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday. "We see statements from different parties that the 'grain deal' has been extended for 120 days," Maria Zakharova was quoted as saying by Russian news agency Interfax. “We have repeated several times that […] the Russian side has informed all stakeholders that the agreement is extended for 60 days”.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, signed in July 2022 by Ukraine, Russia and Turkey, with the help of the UN, has alleviated the global food crisis caused by the war in Ukraine by allowing the export nearly 25 million tonnes of corn, wheat and other cereals.

According to its terms, the agreement was to be "automatically extended for the same period [de 120 jours, NDLR], unless one of the parties notifies the other of its intention to terminate or modify it". It was effectively extended by 120 days in November, until Saturday, March 18, 11:59 p.m. Istanbul time.

But on March 13, Russia, unhappy with the application of a second agreement to facilitate its own fertilizer exports, had indicated that it only accepted a 60-day extension. Since then, the United Nations has done everything possible to save this mechanism which has helped to calm the price spike since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Turkey, where the joint coordination center of the agreement which organizes the control of ships, had indicated on Friday that it still hoped for an extension of 120 days.