The grain deal between Russia and Ukraine that facilitates the export of Ukrainian agricultural exports via Black Sea ports has been extended by 120 days, according to reports.
The deal extension was confirmed by Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Nations.
“I welcome the agreement by all parties to continue the Black Sea Grain Initiative to facilitate the safe navigation of export of grain, foodstuffs, and fertilizers from Ukraine,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement on Twitter.
The United Nations has credited the arrangement for helping alleviate food shortages.
“The initiative demonstrates the importance of discreet diplomacy in finding multilateral solutions,” the U.N. chief added.
He continued by thanking Turkey and its leadership for brokering talks between the warring sides.
“Istanbul remains the center of a remarkable diplomatic achievement,” he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the development in a series of statements on Twitter, hailing the deal as crucial for the “food supply and security of the world” as it has enabled the delivery of over 11 million tons of grain and other food to regions in need over the past four months.
Erdogan thanked Guterres as well as both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy—who also confirmed the renewal of the deal—and Russian President Vladimir Putin for making the extension possible.
Russia’s foreign ministry confirmed the extension of the deal in a statement, in which it also said it expects that Russian concerns relating to easier conditions for its own grain and fertilizer exports will be fully taken into account in the coming period.
The fate of the extension was unclear after Russia earlier announced its withdrawal from the pact that had guaranteed the safe shipment of Ukrainian wheat via Black Sea ports amid Moscow’s naval blockade of Ukraine’s ports.
The move to pull out came in response to a drone attack on Russian naval vessels docked in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, for which Moscow has blamed Ukrainian forces working in tandem with what it called British military “specialists.”
Ukrainian officials have neither confirmed nor denied their country’s involvement in the Sevastopol attack on Russian vessels while Britain denied it had carried out the strike, though London has not hidden the fact that it has been helping to train Ukraine’s forces and providing them with arms.
After Russia withdrew from the deal, NATO and the European Union urged Moscow to reconsider its decision, while U.S. President Joe Biden called Russia’s move “purely outrageous” and said it would increase starvation.
The Russia–Ukraine grain export deal has been credited with helping ease food shortages, with the U.N. saying that the arrangement helped reduce international food prices by some 15 percent since their peak in March.