Black Sea grain deal extended but Kyiv and Moscow disagree on for how long

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdoğan announced on March 18, 2023, that the deal allowing the export of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports had been renewed, but he did not disclose the length of the extension period.

The pact was brokered with Russia and Ukraine by the United Nations and Turkey in July to combat a global food crisis that was fueled in part by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Black Sea blockade.

The deal, which was due to expire on the same day, had previously been renewed for a further 120 days in November. Russia has called for renewing the deal for only 60 days, while Ukraine was insisting on a 120-day renewal.

Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov confirmed that the extension had been agreed for 120 days, according to his Twitter post.

Russia has notified all parties to the Black Sea grain deal that the agreement has been extended for 60 days and reiterated it would not consider another extension until its concerns have been addressed.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova posted a copy of a letter from Russia's permanent representation to the United Nations saying Moscow would not object to the deal being extended by 60 days to May 18.

“Consideration by the Russian side of a further extension of the (deal) after the indicated date will only be possible subject to tangible progress” being made on the question of exporting Russian food and fertilizer, it said.

Turkey’s involvement

President Erdoğan made the announcement during a speech in the western city of Çanakkale, where he had been conducting an opening ceremony for a local road. He noted that the grain corridor deal was one of the main agreement points between Russia and Ukraine after the war, other than the prisoner exchange deal.

Turkey has been a mediator between Russia and Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict, and this agreement is a sign of the country's continuing efforts to resolve the ongoing tensions between the two nations.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative is a critical agreement that has helped to stabilize global food prices, and its extension will bring much-needed relief to markets that have been grappling with supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic and geopolitical tensions.

President Erdoğan's announcement is a significant development in the ongoing negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, and it underscores Turkey's growing importance as a mediator in the region.

The extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative is a crucial step in stabilizing the global food supply, and it is a testament to the efforts of all parties involved in the negotiations.

As the situation in the region continues to evolve, Turkey's role as a mediator will only become more critical, and the world will be closely watching its efforts to maintain peace and stability in the Black Sea region.