“Following quadripartite talks organized by Turkey, the agreement on the Black Sea Grain Corridor was extended for 120 days from November 19.“, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a message on Twitter.
Erdogan welcomed the extension, saying that with 500 ships leaving Ukraine in four months, “the importance and benefits of this pact for world food supply and security are self-evident.”
For his part, the UN Secretary General, António Guterres celebrated the news about the continuation of the pact and reiterated that it is “essential to lower food and fertilizer prices and avoid a global food crisis” derived from the war in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, He also celebrated the extension of the agreement on Twitter, whose validity expired in two days, as “a key decision in the global fight against the food crisis”.
Intensive negotiations under the auspices of the UN have taken place in recent weeks to secure the extension of the agreement, while more than 10 million tons of grain remain blocked in silos in Ukraine.
Ukraine and Russia are among the largest exporters of wheat, sunflower, barley and corn, and Russia of fertilizers, and their production is vital for countries that are net food importers, like many in Africa, and for cultivating fields.
The agreement had been signed on July 22 in the Turkish city of Istanbul with the UN and Turkey as mediators and guarantors, and since then allowed the removal of 11 million tons of grain that had been blocked by the war, of which around 40 % was delivered to developing countries.
the deal designates three Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea from which ships can depart loaded with cereals to navigate a safe corridor to the Mediterranean Sea through the Bosphorus Strait, in Istanbul, Turkey.
In Istanbul, a Joint Coordination Center (JCC) is in charge of coordinating exports of grains and fertilizers and inspecting the cargo of ships to ensure that they do not carry anything other than what is stipulated, such as weapons, for example.
“An important step in the fight against the food crisis”
Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandre Kubrakov, breaking the scoop, said that The extension of the agreement, which expired on November 19, was an “important step in the fight against the world food crisis.”
Last month, Russia rocked the deal by suspending its participation in it after accusing Ukraine of attacking its positions on the Crimean peninsula from a ship that traversed authorized corridors.
Russia returned to the agreement days later, affirming that it had received security guarantees from Ukraine, although it renewed its criticism of the obstacles it encountered to export its fertilizers due to the sanctions that the West imposed on it for invading Ukraine.
It’s a statement, Guterres He also said this Thursday that the UN was “fully committed to removing outstanding obstacles to the export of food and fertilizer from Russia.”
Agricultural products are not subject to sanctions against Russia but, due to the risks of the conflict in the Black Sea, shipowners did not accept to hire their ships due to lack of security.
According to a UN source close to the negotiations, it was necessary to “work hard” to find a way to guarantee Russian exports of agricultural products and fertilizers, the AFP agency noted.
It was possible to establish a framework “in terms of insurance, port entry, financial transactions and access to maritime transport”, consistent with the three sanctions systems in force in the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, he said.
“This policy framework needed to be clarified in order for private sector players to re-engage with Russia,” the source explained.
On the other hand, the UN “facilitated on a humanitarian basis” the delivery of 260,000 tons of Russian fertilizers, the first shipment of which will go to Malawi, one of the most needy countries in southern Africa.
With rising gas prices, Europe has suspended 70% of its fertilizer production. This shortage and the near absence of Russian fertilizers on the world market cause “a price increase of more than 250% over their pre-Covid pandemic levels” in 2020, the UN estimates.
Meanwhile, Russia today launched new drone and missile attacks against Ukraine, hitting energy infrastructure, apartments and an industrial estate and killing at least four people, authorities said.
Another 11 people were wounded in the airstrikes, which targeted the eastern-central Ukrainian cities of Dnipro, the southern port city of Odessa and southern Vilnia, local officials said.
The attacks coincided with the first snowfall in Ukraine, which is experiencing widespread power outages as a result of Russian attacks specifically targeting energy infrastructure, according to the government.
The national electricity operator, Ukrenergo, announced the extension of power cuts this Thursday due to the “worsening of the situation.”
In kyiv, covered in a light blanket of snow, many neighborhoods lost power.
In the afternoon, Zelenski assured that more than ten million Ukrainians are deprived of electricity after the new wave of Russian bombings at a time when winter begins to get harsh.
“Currently, more than 10 million Ukrainians are without electricity,” Zelensky said in the evening.specifying that the regions of Odesa (south), Vinnytsia (center), Sumy (northeast) and kyiv (north) were the most affected.
Russia claimed that the suffering of civilians in Ukraine is “the consequence” of kyiv’s refusal to negotiate.
The new attacks followed a wave launched by Russia last Tuesday that marked the most massive bombardment against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure since the start of the invasion, according to kyiv.
That day, a missile struck eastern Poland, a NATO country, killing two people.
Ukraine accused Russia of launching the missile, but Russia, Poland and NATO said it was “probably” a missile fired by Ukrainian air defenses.