An agreement allowing Ukraine to export millions of tonnes of grain across the Black Sea has been extended despite the ongoing conflict with Russia.
But it is unclear how long that will last, with Ukraine pushing for 120 days, Russia calling for 60 days.
Russia has warned that it will not allow the agreement to continue for much longer unless sanctions against Moscow are eased.
The United Nations and Turkey helped broker the export agreement last July after fears of a global food crisis.
Ukraine is one of the world’s largest producers of grain, but Russian warships blocked its access to Black Sea ports following the invasion in February last year.
Food insecure countries, such as Yemen, are highly dependent on these supplies.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced an agreement to extend the deal on Saturday, with hours remaining before its expiration date.
“This deal is of vital importance to the global food supply. I thank Russia and Ukraine, who did not spare their efforts for the new extension, as well as the Secretary-General of the United Nations,” he said.
But neither Erdogan nor the United Nations has made it clear how long this will last. Ukraine wanted to extend it by 120 days, but Russia said it was only willing to renew the agreement for another 60 days.
Vasily Nebenzia, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, said on Friday that the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States have two months to remove any sanctions targeting Russia’s agricultural sector if they want the deal to continue.
Moscow wants Russian producers to be able to export more food and fertilizer to the rest of the world, but says Western sanctions are stopping them.
While food and fertilizer exports have not been targeted, Russia says restrictions on payments, insurers and shippers are making exports difficult.
Russia briefly pulled out of the deal in November last year, accusing Ukraine of attacking its fleet in Crimea – but rejoined a few days later.
According to the United NationsThe deal has already allowed about 25 million tons of food from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to reach global markets.
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