Ukraine: The agreement to export grain through the Black Sea is extended by 120 days, but without the improvements that kyiv seeks | International

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The agreement that has allowed since July to export more than 11 million metric tons of grain from Ukraine through the Black Sea ports has been renewed for a period of 120 days. This was announced this Thursday by the four parties involved: Ukraine, Russia, the United Nations and Turkey. This is, in principle, a minimum agreement, at least in light of the claims that kyiv had raised in the negotiations in recent days to resolve "existing problems", according to the Minister of Infrastructure, Oleksandr Kubrakov, who is satisfied despite to everything. Finally, outside of the extension of the pact, some Ukrainian proposals have been left out, such as including the port of Mikolaiv as the fourth loading point for the merchandise or that the extension of the initiative be one year.

The next challenge proposed by the United Nations is to reopen the fertilizer market, essential so that the next agricultural campaign does not continue to suffer from the war. For this reason, the Secretary General, António Guterres, recalled in the statement announcing the expansion of the Black Sea pact that we are dealing with two agreements, the one on grain and the one that allows Russian fertilizers to enter the markets. In this sense, the Kremlin has indicated that it is not willing to squander the pact, but it does demand a relaxation of the sanctions on its agriculture and its fertilizer exports, which they consider an essential part of the agreement, according to the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei. Ryabkov, reports Reuters citing the Russian agency Tass. Continuing with his mediating role between kyiv and Moscow, the President of Turkey, Recep Tayip Erdogan, who hosts the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) in his country, has thanked that the initiative is maintained.

The Black Sea pact, which was signed for the first time in Istanbul on July 22, also valid for 120 days, managed to unblock access to the sea through three ports in the south of the country through a humanitarian corridor through waters with the presence of Russian warships and which had been mined to prevent the landing of Kremlin troops in cities like Odessa. In these almost four months, 11.1 million metric tons of cereal have been exported —together with some food products and fertilizers— of which 70% are corn (4.5 million tons) and wheat (3.2 ), according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Inspection teams are waiting in international waters for the ships. They control that they do not dock in Ukrainian ports with prohibited merchandise, such as weapons. They are also inspected on departure, when they are loaded with grain, heading towards the Bosphorus Strait.

The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, has welcomed with "satisfaction" that the four parties have agreed to go ahead with the initiative and expresses his commitment to make it "smooth". Guterres does not make a direct reference in his statement this Thursday to the problems that have existed since the end of July and that led Russia to deviate four days from the agreement after an attack on October 29 on its war fleet in the Crimean peninsula.

“This is another important step in the global fight against the food crisis”, thanked the Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine through his Twitter profile. In spite of everything, the improvements that kyiv had put on the table to "solve existing problems" have been left out. Kubrakov acknowledges that Ukraine has not achieved, as it had intended, that the agreement be extended for one year, that the port of Mikolaiv be included as the fourth grain export center and that the current number of four or five inspection teams of the boats up to a dozen. “It is also important to guarantee the effective functioning of the JCC,” he comments, referring to the Joint Coordination Center (JCC), the engine room from where the four parties control the proper development of the maritime humanitarian corridor. kyiv has accused Moscow of trying to hinder its proper development, as pointed out by the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and head of the country's ports, Yuri Vaskov, in an interview with EL PAÍS this month.

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A third of the crops in Ukraine, one of the world's breadbaskets, have been lost to the Russian invasion. Several hundred million people around the world depend on them. 60% of the exports that leave the Black Sea are destined for Africa and Asia and the inhabitants of the poorest countries on the planet. Ukraine leads the world in sunflower oil exports and is in the top five for corn and wheat. The Russian invasion came to block up to 22 million metric tons of grain that could not go to the world market in the first months of the war.

Guterres has also insisted on the United Nations commitment to "eliminate the obstacles that still oppose the export of food and fertilizers from the Russian Federation." The UN Secretary General appeals to the importance of the grain agreement and the fertilizer pact, since "they are essential to reduce the prices of food and fertilizers and avoid a world food crisis." “The renewal of the Black Sea grains initiative is good news for global food security” but “solving the fertilizer crisis must come next”, Rebeca Grynspa has said on TwitterSecretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

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