The United Nations (UN) and Russia began talks on Monday to renew the Ukraine grain export deal, which has helped ease the global food crisis triggered by the Russian invasion of its neighbour.
UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffith and head of the UN’s trade and development agency UNCTAD Rebeca Grynspan have arrived for the talks at the Palais des Nations UN headquarters in Geneva.
Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 saw Ukraine’s Black Sea ports blocked by warships until a deal signed in July allowed the safe passage of exports of crucial grain supplies.
According to the UN, more than 24.1 million tonnes have been exported under the UN and Turkiye-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI).
The Black Sea Grain deal, which has helped ease the global food crisis caused by the Russian invasion, will automatically renew on March 18 unless Russia or Ukraine objects.
But the Kremlin claims that a parallel deal on Russian exports is not being respected.
UN chief says it is crucial to extend grain deal
While the Black Sea Grain deal concerns the export of Ukrainian grain, the second agreement between Moscow and the UN aims to facilitate the export of Russian food and fertilizers, exempt from Western sanctions imposed on Russia.
Last Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said during a visit to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv that it was crucial to extend the grain deal.
Grynspan was in Kyiv last Wednesday for the Black Sea Grain deal talks.
According to UN data, nearly half of the exports shipped under the deal are corn, and more than a quarter are wheat.
About 45 percent of the exports went to developed nations. The biggest recipient of exports was China, followed by Spain, Turkiye, Italy, and the Netherlands.