UN willing to compromise with Russia on limited grain deal extension

New York, March 15, (dpa/GNA) – Faced with Russia’s offer of only a limited extension of the agreement to export Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea, the United Nations has indicated a willingness to compromise.

Moscow does not want to extend the agreement, which expires this coming weekend, by 120 days as stated in the treaty, but only by 60. The Kremlin called its proposal “a gesture of goodwill.”

UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric, said Tuesday in New York that while “the agreement foresees a renewal of 120 days,” Secretary General António Guterres and his team are focussed “on doing everything possible to ensure continuity of the initiative.”

Russia’s naval blockaded the Black Sea ports of the neighbouring country after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine began just over a year ago.

A grain agreement was mediated by the UN and Turkey in the summer of 2022. Among other things it provided for the unblocking of Ukrainian ports for grain exports, considered critical for global food security.

The initiative, originally agreed for a 120-day period, was extended for another 120 days in the autumn. It is due to expire on March 19.

Dujarric left unanswered questions around the status of negotiations in Geneva. He stressed, however, that the United Nations was still working hard to facilitate agricultural exports from Russia as well.

Russia complains that a parallel agreement concerning its own grain and fertilizer exports has failed due to Western sanctions, a claim repeated by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov earlier Tuesday.

“This is a gesture of goodwill from Russia in the hope that after the expiry of such a long period of time, the conditions and obligations that certain sides have taken upon themselves will be fulfilled,” Peskov said about the 60-day offer, according to the Interfax news agency.