Ukraine’s grain trade corridor in the Black Sea has been extended for 120 days, the UN announced today.
The deal, which was due to end on Saturday, was brokered by the UN in July to allow agricultural exports from Ukraine’s southern Black Sea ports.
It aimed to ease the pressure on global food supplies following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is a major producer of grain and cooking oils.
The UN welcomed the extension of the agreement, hailing the corridor a “vital supply line” and extolling the importance of “discreet diplomacy”.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the UN is “fully committed to removing the remaining obstacles to exporting food and fertilisers from the Russian Federation”.
It comes as stray missiles landed in Poland close to the Ukraine border on Tuesday, killing two. NATO said Ukraine’s air defence missiles were likely to blame following a wave of Russian strikes but Kyiv denied the claims.
Food-shortage fears were sparked at the end of October as the Russian Foreign Ministry announced it would withdraw from the UN-brokered deal, citing a Ukrainian drone attack on its Black Sea fleet in Crimea.
Concerns were assuaged days later as President Vladimir Putin said Russia would support the shipments “in the context of supporting global food security”.
Agricultural products are Ukraine’s most important exports, accounting for 41% of the country’s US$68bn in overall exports in 2021.
Guterres said: “I welcome the agreement by all parties to continue the Black Sea Grain Initiative to facilitate the safe navigation of export of grain, foodstuffs and fertilisers from Ukraine.
“The United Nations is fully committed to supporting the joint coordination centre so that this vital supply line continues to function smoothly. The United Nations is also fully committed to removing the remaining obstacles to exporting food and fertilisers from the Russian Federation.
“Both agreements signed in Istanbul three months ago are essential to bring down the prices of food and fertiliser and avoid a global food crisis.
“The Black Sea Grain Initiative continues to demonstrate the importance of discreet diplomacy in the context of finding multilateral solutions.”
Last month, Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry revealed grain exports had almost returned to pre-war levels in the first few weeks of October.