Russia has agreed to extend a deal that has allowed Ukraine to ship grain through the Black Sea to parts of the world struggling with hunger, a boost to global food security after the more-than-year-old war drove up prices.
“I want to give good news,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday in a televised speech. “With the efforts of our country, the support of our Russian friends and the contribution of our Ukrainian friends, the Black Sea Grain Initiative has been extended by another two months.”
Senior officials from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations met in Istanbul last week and continued talks to discuss the Black Sea deal and its future.
Turkey and the UN brokered the breakthrough accord with the warring sides last summer, which came with a separate agreement to facilitate shipments of Russian food and fertiliser that Moscow insists has not been applied.
Russia had threatened to bow out if its concerns were not ironed out by Thursday. Such brinkmanship isn’t new: With a similar extension in the balance in March, Russia unilaterally decided to renew the deal for a similar 60 days instead of the 120 days outlined in the agreement.
On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the deal had been extended to help countries in need, but added that Russia’s overall assessment of the agreement “has not changed”.