LONODN (Reuters) - A deal aimed at easing global food shortages by helping Ukraine export its agricultural products from Black Sea ports was extended for four months on Thursday, though Russia said its own demands were yet to be fully addressed.
The agreement, initially reached in July, created a protected transit corridor and was designed to alleviate shortages by allowing exports to resume from three ports in Ukraine, a major producer of grains and oilseeds.
“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 fertilizers from Ukraine,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.
The UN, he said, was also “fully committed to removing the remaining obstacles to exporting food and fertilizers from (Russia)” - a part of the deal Moscow sees as critical.
Russia’s foreign ministry confirmed the extension of the deal for 120 days starting from Nov. 18, without any changes to the current one.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that since Aug 1, more than 450 ships had carried 11 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain and other foodstuffs around the world.
“Tens of millions of people, primarily in African countries, have been saved from starvation ... food prices are significantly lower than they would be without our food exports,” he said in a video address.
The export of Russian ammonia via a pipeline to the Black Sea has not yet been agreed as part of the renewal, two sources familiar with discussions told Reuters. But Russia would continue efforts to resume those exports, one of the sources added. Ammonia is an important ingredient in fertilizer.
The 120-day extension was less than the one-year sought by the United Nations and Ukraine. Russia said earlier this week that the current duration period of the deal seems “justified.”
Ukraine and Russia are major global grain exporters. Russia is the world’s largest wheat exporter and a major supplier of fertilizers to global markets.