EPAA Ukrainian grain ship is loaded in a port near Odesa
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 13:01
The talks about a new extension of the grain agreement between Ukraine and Russia seem to be in the final phase. Russia even reported earlier this morning that there was an agreement, but that is contradicted by other parties. Another stumbling block is the term by which the agreement must be extended.
According to the United Nations, official talks ended yesterday as planned and informal consultations are now taking place behind the scenes. Turkey also says that the parties have not yet decided and will continue to talk.
60 or 120 a day
The official talks were yesterday in the Swiss city of Geneva. Afterwards, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister reported that the deal had been extended by 60 days. That is shorter than Ukraine wants and also shorter than agreed in the original agreement that was concluded in July last year.
It was stipulated that the agreement was valid for 120 days and that it should always be extended by at least such a period. That also happened in November last year: the agreement was extended by 120 days until March of this year.
What is the Grain Deal?
In July last year, Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement that allowed the resumption of exports of Ukrainian grain and other agricultural products via the Black Sea. The war had brought exports to a standstill, causing shortages in many countries outside Europe and prices on the world market rising rapidly. It was agreed that Ukrainian ships could sail unhindered. Russia also received guarantees for its grain exports.
The agreement was reached through the mediation of the United Nations. Turkey, which is also on the Black Sea, was closely involved. It was agreed that a coordination center would be established in Istanbul. It was also stipulated that grain ships were checked in Turkish ports to ensure that no weapons were being smuggled with them.
Ukraine and Russia are among the largest grain exporters in the world.
Now that a new extension is being discussed, the Russians want to limit that to sixty days. Ukraine wants certainty for a longer period of time and says that the text of the original agreement also leaves no room for a shorter extension. “We stick to last year’s agreement. Sixty days is not legally possible,” says a senior Ukrainian government representative.
Russia also wants to make agreements about removing obstacles to the Russian export of agricultural products. Formally there are no Western restrictions, but in practice they do because it is difficult for Russian companies to insure cargoes and arrange banking matters, for example.
There is pressure on the negotiations because the grain agreement expires on March 18. The deal is seen as one of the few diplomatic successes since the outbreak of war in Ukraine more than a year ago. Since July last year, millions of tons of grain and other agricultural products have been exported under the agreement.
Leave a Reply