Ukraine begins talks with UN and Turkiye on extending Black Sea grain deal

Ukraine has started online talks with its partners with a view to extending the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is scheduled to expire this month after a four-month extension was agreed last November.

An unnamed senior Ukrainian government source cited by Reuters said on Tuesday March 7th that Ukraine had not held direct discussions with Russia, but that the Ukrainian government understood that its partners were talking to Russia as well as to Ukraine.

“The situation with negotiations is rather complicated. Now a lot depends, not on us but on the partners,” the source told Reuters.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative was brokered by the UN and Turkiye last July and was extended in November, but it is due to expire on March 18th.

Ukraine has said that it would like to extend the deal to a fourth port – Mykolaiv, and have it run for a year. Russia has said that it could cancel the deal if its own exports, e.g., fertilizer, do not obtain concessions from the West. Although Russia’s agricultural exports have not been targeted explicitly by Western sanctions, the knock-on effect of financial sanctions had made it hard to export its own grains and fertilizers.