Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday, on television stations, the extension of the international agreement on Ukrainian grain exports signed last year under the auspices of the UN, but without specifying the duration of the extension. The local press reveals that the Turkish president, who is in full campaign for the May 14 presidential elections, wanted to be the first to announce this information, knowing his important role in achieving this agreement. In his televised speech, Recep Erdogan recalled that the grain corridor agreement, as well as the Russian-Ukrainian prisoner exchange agreement, were brokered by his reign. The agreement, which expired on March 18, Recep Erdogan recalled, allowed the delivery of 25 million tons of grain to world markets, contributing to the stability of the world food supply.
Divergences between Moscow and Kiev on the duration of the extension of the agreement
Erdogan did not specify in his speech the duration of the extension of the grain agreement, the statements of the parties being contradictory for the moment. Welcoming Erdogan’s announcement, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Saturday that the agreement was being extended by 120 days, thanking UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, President Recep Erdogan, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, and to all partners for “confirmation of this agreement”.
Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, made a surprising announcement, saying that Moscow had agreed to extend the agreement on Ukrainian grain exports for only 60 days. “We have said on several occasions, she emphasized, that the Russian side has informed all the negotiating parties that the agreement is being extended by 60 days”.
We remind you that, initially, the grain agreement provided for its automatic extension for the same established period of 120 days, unless one of the parties announces that it wishes to change the extension period. The agreement was extended once, by 120 days, last November. This time, on March 18, Russia, dissatisfied with the application of the agreement because it did not facilitate its fertilizer exports, announced that it accepts the extension of the agreement’s validity for only 60 days. Since the announcement of Russia’s new position, the UN has gone all out to save the deal that allowed the rise in grain prices to calm after the invasion of Ukraine. Turkey, which hosts the Joint Coordination Center of the grain agreement and which organizes the control of ships, announced last Friday that it “continues to hope for a 120-day extension” of the agreement. A clarification of the positions of the signatories of this agreement and a clarification of the duration of its extension are expected in the capitals concerned, including at the UN.