Race Against Time to Extend Ukrainian Wheat Deal

The last ship with Ukrainian grain, which was granted safe passage by the Black Sea Grain Agreement, has left the berth in the port of Odessa. The third extension of the agreement signed on July 22, 2022 between the UN, Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey expires on Monday, July 17.

This agreement guarantees the export of grain products from Ukraine, while the UN has committed to partially lifting Western sanctions on the export of agricultural products and chemical fertilizers from Russia. In addition, Moscow insists on the reconnection to the Swift interbank system of Rosselkhozbank, Russia’s largest bank in the agri-food sector.

Russia has yet to say yes to the extension of the agreement on Sunday evening. According to the press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov, “over the past year, not a single agreement in favor of Russia has been implemented.” The agreement was seen as crucial for preventing a global food crisis and fighting hunger in developing countries. However, according to the Kremlin, only 4% of Ukrainian grain went to the poorest countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, while the lion’s share was accumulated by the West.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Russian President Vladimir Putin by telephone to seek assurances from Russia regarding the extension. The coordinating center for the International Wheat Agreement is located in Istanbul.