Ukraine grain export deal extended but Putin demanding more

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The international deal allowing Ukraine to export its grain via the Black Sea in order to tackle global food shortages has been extended by four months. However, Russia has claimed that its own needs are not being sufficiently met, as it seeks to export ammonia supplies.

As a key ingredient in fertiliser, ammonia is also vital for ensuring crops can be grown.

The agreement was initially reached in July and enables a protective transit for Ukrainian ships to leave from three ports.

The country, which has been under attack from Putin’s forces since February, is a prominent producer of grain and oilseeds.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a statement: “I welcome the agreement by all parties to continue the Black Sea grain initiative to facilitate the safe navigation of export of grain, foodstuffs and fertilisers from Ukraine.

He added that the UN was “fully committed to removing the remaining obstacles to exporting food and fertilisers from (Russia)”, a move which will appease Moscow.

The foreign ministry in Russia confirmed the deal had been extended for a further 120 days from November 18, with no changes to the current one.

President Zelensky said over 450 ships carrying 11 million tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs had left Ukraine since August 1.

He said in a video address: “Tens of millions of people, primarily in African countries, have been saved from starvation…food prices are significantly lower than they would be without our food exports.”

Sources told Reuters that Russian ammonia exports via a pipeline to the Black Sea had not yet been agreed as part of the renewal.

However the Kremlin is reportedly keen to continue trying to negotiate for these exports.

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In September President Zelensky said he would only be open to resuming ammonia exports if Putin were to hand back prisoners of war, a suggestion which was quashed by Moscow.

Rebeca Grynspan, secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development tweeted: “The renewal of the (deal)…is good news for global food security and for the developing world.

“Solving the fertiliser crunch must come next.”

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