The Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Russian Federation has once again claimed that the Black Sea Grain Initiative was extended by 60 days on Saturday, 18 March, and not by 120 days, as the agreement stipulates. [The Black Sea Grain Initiative is an agreement brokered by the UN with Russia and Türkiye and launched on 22 July 2022 to enable ships to transport grain from Ukraine – ed.]
Source: statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Details: "Due to the lack of progress with the implementation of the UN-Russia Memorandum on the normalisation of domestic agricultural exports, Moscow has decided to reduce the period of the next extension to 60 days, that is, until 18 May," the statement said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry added that Moscow has officially conveyed its position to Ukraine, Türkiye and UN representatives.
"There were no formal objections. Thus, the agreement continues to operate for the next two months within the existing framework, with no changes to the ports involved, the range of cargoes and the agreed-upon inspection procedures," the ministry’s statement continued.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also explained that future extensions to the Black Sea Grain Initiative depend on progress with the implementation of the Russia-UN Memorandum. In particular, Russia has demanded that the Russian Agricultural Bank be reconnected to the SWIFT system; that the supply of agricultural equipment, spare parts, and services be resumed; that limits on insurance and reinsurance be scrapped and the ban on access to ports be lifted; that the operation of the Togliatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline be resumed; and that foreign assets and accounts belonging to Russian firms working in food and fertiliser production be released.
Russia has threatened to pull out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative if these demands are not fulfilled.
Russia’s claims that it might unilaterally terminate the agreement will negatively affect the operation of the "grain corridor" and the ability of Ukrainian exporters to secure contracts, as the market will not be sure of the ability of ships to pass the Bosphorus.
Background: Ekonomichna Pravda reported earlier that Russia has only extended the Grain Initiative by 60 days because it wanted to maintain its political influence in countries that depend on agricultural imports from Ukraine; to reduce Ukrainian profits; and to capture Ukrainian market share in countries such as Egypt.
On Saturday, 18 March, Oleksandr Kubrakov, Deputy Prime Minister for Restoration of Ukraine, announced the extension of the Grain Initiative for 120 days.