Russia and Ukraine extend grain deal despite disagreement

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Nearly 25 million tons of grain have left Ukraine under the agreement, according to the UN

A deal allowing Ukraine to export millions of tons of grain through the Black Sea despite the ongoing conflict with Russia has been extended.

But it is unclear how long it will last, with Ukraine pushing for 120 days and Russia calling for 60 days.

Russia has warned it will not let the deal continue unless sanctions against Moscow are eased.

The UN and Turkey helped finalize the export deal last July amid fears of a global food crisis.

Ukraine is one of the world’s largest producers of grain, but access to Black Sea ports was blocked by Russian warships after the invasion last February.

Countries experiencing food insecurity, such as Yemen, rely heavily on these supplies.

Turkish President Recep Tayyup Erdogan on Saturday announced an agreement to extend the deal, with hours to go before it was due to expire.

“This deal is vital for the global food supply. I thank Russia and Ukraine, who have not spared their efforts for another extension, as well as the United Nations Secretary-General,” he said.

But neither Erdogan nor the UN has clarified how long it would take. Ukraine wanted the pact extended for 120 days, but Russia said it was only willing to extend the pact for another 60 days.

Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, said on Friday that the EU, UK and US have two months to lift any sanctions against Russia’s agricultural sector if they want the deal to go ahead.

Moscow wants Russian producers to be able to export more food and fertilizer to the rest of the world, but says Western sanctions prevent this.

While food and fertilizer exports are not targeted, Russia says restrictions on payments, insurers and shippers make exports more difficult.

Russia briefly pulled out of the deal last November, accusing Ukraine of attacking its fleet in Crimea, but rejoined a few days later.

The deal has already allowed nearly 25 million tons of food from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to reach global markets, according to the UN.

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