U.N.-brokered Black Sea grain deal extended to help lower food prices

As the deadline for expiration approached, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a two-month extension of the landmark U.N.-brokered Black Sea grain deal, thanking Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres — all of whom were directly involved in the last-minute reprieve.

Details of any modifications were not announced, but both Ukraine and Turkey made the announcement on Wednesday.  

“We have some positive and significant developments — confirmation by the Russian Federation to continue its participation in the Black Sea Initiative for another 60 days,” Guterres told the press at U.N. headquarters on Wednesday, adding, “the continuation is good news for the world.”

Saying that “outstanding issues remain,” Guterres said that the importance of the Black Sea Initiative and the Memorandum of Understanding between the U.N. and the Russian Federation “is clear.”

“Ukrainian and Russian products feed the world,” he said, clarifying that the world is “still in the throes of a record-breaking cost-of-living crisis” and saying that since the agreement was signed, “markets have stabilized, volatility has been reduced and we have seen global food prices fall by 20%.”

The Black Sea Grain Initiative was agreed to in July 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey, and extended in November. It was extended again, after objections by Russia, in March.

The deal included agreements signed separately by Russia and Ukraine, and brokered by the U.N. and Turkey to help get grain from Ukraine and food and fertilizers from Russia. The purpose stated by the U.N. to negotiate the deal was to break the disruption in supplies of grain, food, and fertilizers that resulted from ”Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” that sent food prices soaring and “contributed to a global food prices.”

The agreement included a separate Memorandum of Understanding between the U.N. and Russia for the U.N. to assist in making sure that Russian fertilizers are not blocked by secondary sanctions on ships, insurance, or banks.

The weeks prior to the deadline, Russia slowed the inspection of ships hoping for approval of its long-stated demand of the resumption of an ammonia pipeline from Russia to Ukraine and for a return to the banking system known as SWIFT, for its exports.

The deal has allowed the safe export of more than 30 million tons of grain, foodstuffs and fertilizer, since it first began in July last year, greatly alleviating the global crisis of food insecurity.

Pamela Falk

Pamela Falk is the CBS News correspondent covering the United Nations, and an international lawyer.

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