Bulk carrier ARGO I is docked at the grain terminal of the port of Odessa, Ukraine, on April 10.
(Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images)
An agreement has been reached to extend the deal that allows grain to be exported from Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea, according to Turkish, Ukrainian and Russian officials.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was first to announce that the deal, which was scheduled to expire Thursday, will be extended for two months.
The agreement, brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, was originally signed last year and has since been extended.
What Ukraine says: Oleksandr Kubrakov, the Ukrainian minister of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development, has confirmed that the grain deal has been extended.
“The grain deal has been unblocked and will continue to be in effect until July 18. The world will continue to receive Ukrainian products thanks to the efforts of our partners in the agreement - Turkey and the UN,” Kubrakov said on Facebook.
“We are grateful to our partners for their unwavering and focused position that the agreement should continue to work and on the terms signed by all parties,” Kubrakov added.
Russia had balked at extending the deal without better guarantees for its own exports.
“In mid-April, Russia began to unreasonably restrict the work of the Initiative, and in May it actually blocked it by refusing to register a new fleet and conduct inspections of the fleet that is being loaded at Ukrainian ports,” said Kubrakov.
“Almost 70 vessels are currently waiting in Turkish territorial waters, 90% of them are ready to deliver the products of our farmers to the world,” he claimed.
“We welcome the continuation of the Initiative, but emphasize that it must work effectively. For this purpose, it is necessary to eliminate the problems that Russia has been creating for several months now by sabotaging inspections and registration of the new fleet,” he added.
What Russia says: Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova has also confirmed the extension of the Black Sea Grain initiative.
However, Zakharova said that “distortions in the implementation of the grain deal should be corrected as quickly as possible.”
US praises extension: The US State Department praised the two-month extension Wednesday, with spokesperson Vedant Patel saying in a briefing that we “strongly support the UN’s and Turkey’s efforts on the deal, which keeps the global food and grain prices low.”
Patel also chastised Russia for the need to repeatedly extend the deal.
“We should not need to remind Moscow every few weeks to keep their promises and to stop using people’s hunger as a weapon in their war against Ukraine,” said Patel.
CNN’s Uliana Pavlova and Michael Conte contributed reporting to this post.