On March 18, 2023, Ukraine and Russia agreed to extend their grain agreement, allowing for grain exports through the Black Sea, for another 120 days. The Kiev government cited the mediation of Turkey and the UN to reach the agreement. The Ukrainian Minister of Community Development, Territories, and Infrastructure, Oleksandr Kubrakov, confirmed the extension through his Facebook account. Turkey, however, has not specified the duration of this extension, which led to some “ambiguity” according to diplomatic sources. The United Nations also confirmed the extension without clarifying its duration.
Russia initially stated that it would only accept a 60-day extension, hoping to see progress during this period regarding the export of its own agricultural goods, which have been indirectly impacted by Western sanctions. The Russian ambassador urged the United States, European Union, and United Kingdom to end the sanctions that the logistics chain supports in connection to Russian agricultural exports so that the grain agreement can continue. However, the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zajárova, announced that Russia agreed to an extension of only 60 days.
Since August 1, Ukraine has shipped 25 million tons of grains through three ports. Last July, both Russia and Ukraine approved the agreement, which expired on March 19, 2023. It was extended once before, in November. Although it remains unclear how long the current extension will last, the grain agreement is vital to Ukraine’s economy, which is heavily dependent on agriculture.