Russia has approved an extension of the agreement on further exports of Ukrainian grain through three Black Sea ports. However, unlike before, this should only apply for 60 more days, according to a statement by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Verchinin. It was published on the website of the Russian embassy in Geneva on Monday evening. Representatives of Russia had negotiated with the United Nations (UN) there yesterday.

The agreement of July 2022 also included a promise by the UN to work towards facilitating Russian exports, especially of fertilizers. Because of Western sanctions, however, this remains difficult. According to Verchinin, Moscow is making the approval of a further extension dependent on progress in these export deals. Among other things, bank payments, transport logistics and insurance would have to be made easier. Moscow is also insisting on the reopening of Russia’s ammonia pipeline, which runs through Ukraine. It has not been in operation since the Russian attack on the neighboring country in February 2022.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative Agreement, mediated by the UN and Turkey, was initially valid for 120 days and was extended once by 120 days. It would have expired at the weekend. The initiative brought a good 23 million tons of grain onto the world market and also benefited the poorest countries.