Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday the extension of the grain agreement between Russia and Ukraine. "After talks with both sides, we have pledged to extend the agreement, which was due to expire on March 19," the Turkish leader said in a televised address on Saturday, just hours before the deal expires.
However, Erdogan did not initially provide information on the duration of the extension. Ankara previously said it hoped for a 120-day extension. Russia, on the other hand, insisted on an extension of just 60 days.
The grain agreement was signed in July 2022 with the mediation of the UN and Turkey to enable the safe export of Ukrainian grain through a protective corridor in the Black Sea. Turkey had played a key role in launching the UN-backed grain deal. The agreement was initially valid for 120 days and was extended by a further 120 days in November.
According to UN figures, more than 24.1 million tons of grain have been exported so far. Parallel to the grain agreement, an agreement was concluded that allows Russia - despite sanctions - to export fertilizers and food. Moscow has repeatedly complained that this agreement will not be implemented.
Ukraine and Russia are important suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other foodstuffs to countries in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. Before the war began, Russia was also the world's largest exporter of fertilizers. The disruption of these supplies following the Russian invasion in February 2022 drove up food prices around the world and fueled fears of a hunger crisis in poorer countries.