The Russian delegation in talks with the United Nations has announced that the Kremlin is ready to accept a 60-day extension of last year’s Black Sea Grain Initiative.

The deal, originally brokered by Turkey and the United Nations on July 22, 2022 in Istanbul, allowed ships to export Ukrainian food and fertilizers from three ports along the Black Sea. When Russia invaded Ukraine last February, the global food chain found itself severely affected as Ukraine was one of the world’s critical breadbaskets. Food prices rose and increased concern about food shortages in developing countries.

The agreement also stipulates that UN, Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish officials check the cargo at sea to ensure that only food – not weapons – is being transported.

The 120-day agreement was renewed last November. That extension expired on Saturday and another 120 days were on the table.

“The UN Secretary-General has confirmed that the UN will make every effort to preserve the integrity of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and ensure its continuity,” a UN statement said. It highlighted that the agreement had allowed the export of 24 million tonnes of grain and more than 1,600 voyages by ship through the Black Sea – with more than half of the exports destined for developing countries.

Ukraine and Russia are key global suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other food to countries in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia where millions do not have enough to eat. Russia was also the world’s leading fertilizer exporter before the war.

Last week, Moscow expressed frustration that a parallel agreement has failed to fully open the door to Russian grain and fertilizer exports through the Black Sea.

“The wide-ranging and frank conversation has once again confirmed that although the commercial export of Ukrainian products is being carried out at a steady pace, bringing considerable profits to Kyiv, restrictions on the Russian agricultural exporters are still in place,” the Russian delegation said in a press release . statement.

“The food and fertilizer sanctions waivers announced by Washington, Brussels and London are essentially inactive,” it claimed.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the organization has been working to facilitate Russian agricultural exports, noting that while Russian food and fertilizers have not been sanctioned, private companies have been wary of handling them and “that is why we have asked for comfort from some governments.”

As part of the arrangement, Moscow wants Russian ammonia to be fed through a pipeline across Ukraine to Black Sea ports for possible export. Russian officials also say banking restrictions and high insurance costs have hurt their hopes of exporting fertilizer.

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov claimed that “Russia’s position to extend the agreement only for 60 days contradicts the document” which foresees an extension of at least 120 days and said that Kiev was waiting for the official positions of the UN and Turkey.