The UN is rushing to extend a contract that has permitted shipments of Ukraine grain through the Black Sea to regions of the world suffering from hunger. Thereby helping to alleviate a global food crisis exacerbated by the war Russia launched over a year ago.
The breakthrough agreement brokered by the UN and Turkey with the warring parties last summer. It included a distinct agreement to ease Russian food and fertiliser shipment. Which Moscow insists has not been implemented.
Russia has set Thursday as the deadline for resolving its concerns, or it will withdraw. Such recklessness is not new: With a comparable extension pending in March. Russia decided unilaterally to extend the agreement for only 60 days instead of the 120 days stipulated in the agreement.
UN failed to extend the “Black Sea Grain” Initiative
UN officials and analysts warn that a failure to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative could negatively impact African countries. The Middle East and parts of Asia rely on affordable Ukrainian wheat, barley, vegetable oil, and other food products. This is particularly true given the impact of drought. In the past year, the agreement helped reduce the price of food commodities such as wheat. But this respite has not yet reached kitchen tables.
William Osnato, a senior research analyst at agriculture data and analytics firm Gro Intelligence, stated. “If you have a cancellation of the Ukraine grain contract again when we’re already in a fairly tight situation. It’s just one more thing the world doesn’t need, so prices could begin to rise.” There is no sign of respite on the horizon.
Monday, UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths informed the Security Council that the agreement was “crucial” and that negotiations were ongoing.
The negotiators who met in Istanbul last week made little progress. Vice-Prime Minister of Ukraine Oleksandr Kubrakov stated that the grain deal “should be extended for a longer period of time. And expanded” to “give predictability and confidence” to the markets.