Russia only wants to extend grain agreements by 60 days
Representatives of Russia and the United Nations are negotiating in Geneva this Monday Continuation of the grain agreement intended to secure exports from Ukraine. This was confirmed by a spokeswoman for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). On the UN side, UNCTAD Secretary General Rebeca Grynspan is leading the talks. The talks should take place behind closed doors. Results on Monday were not initially expected.
The agreement expires on March 19 if Russia does not agree to a new extension. In return, Moscow is demanding greater support for its own export business, which have become difficult, among other things, due to Western sanctions. UN Secretary-General António Guterres was in Kiev last week to discuss the grain initiative.
Russia had blocked grain exports through Ukraine’s Black Sea ports after launching its war of aggression against the neighboring country in February 2022. As a result, world market prices exploded temporarily and there was a risk of famine because Russia and Ukraine were previously among the most important grain exporters, including to poorer countries. With the mediation of the United Nations and Turkey, an agreement was reached in the summer that enables controlled exports. It was renewed once.
Parallel to the agreement, the UN promised Russia in an agreement to remove hurdles hampering Russian exports, especially fertilizers. Western sanctions do not directly block these exports. However, other financial measures make it difficult for Russian exporters to call at ports, obtain insurance or process payments. The United Nations admits that the problems are not yet resolved.