Delegation members inspect the Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni carrying 26,000 tons of corn from Ukraine off the coast of northwest Istanbul, Turkey, on August 3, 2022. Russia announced Monday that it will extend the Black Sea Initiative, allowing grain exports to pass through the Black Sea for an additional 60 days. File photo by Gokhan Mert/UPI | License Photo
March 13 (UPI) -- Russia announced Monday that it will extend the Black Sea Initiative, allowing grain exports to pass through the Black Sea for an additional 60 days.
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin announced the extension in a statement on Monday, noting that there would be preconditions for a future extension. The Black Sea Initiative was last renewed in November for 120 days. It will renew on March 18 if neither Russia nor Ukraine objects.
"[Russia] does not object to the next extension of the 'Black Sea initiative' after the expiration of the second term on March 18, but only for 60 days," the statement said.
"Our future position will be determined depending on the real, not in words, but in deeds, progress in normalizing our agricultural exports, including bank payments, transport logistics, insurance, 'unfreezing' of financial activities and the supply of ammonia through the Togliatti-Odessa pipeline."
Turkey and the United Nations brokered the Black Sea Initiative last summer to ease the war in Ukraine's strain on the global food supply. Russia's decision is a temporary relief as an estimated 23 million tons of grain and other food have been exported under the agreement so far.
There was some trepidation over whether Russia would in fact oppose continuing with the deal after March 18. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the agreement has played a key role in averting an even greater impact on the world's economy than the war has already had.
"Exports of Ukrainian -- as well as Russian -- food and fertilizers are essential to global food security and food prices," Guterres said during a visit to Kyiv on Wednesday.
Ukraine has offered some pushback in light of the announcement by Russia. Deputy Prime Minister Oleksander Kubrakov tweeted that the agreement calls for extensions of 120 days, not 60.
"#BlackSeaGrainInitiative agreement involves at least 120 d. of extension, therefore Russia's position to extend the deal only for 60 d. contradicts the document signed by Turkey & the UN, Kubrakov tweeted. "We're waiting for the official position of @UN & Turkey as the guarantors of the initiative."