Russia expresses doubts about extension of Ukrainian grain export deal

Russia's foreign minister has expressed doubts about his country's willingness to extend the agreement that ensures the safe passage of ships exporting Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea.

Sergey Lavrov referred to the agreement during a news conference in Moscow on Thursday. The deal was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last year. It is set to expire on March 18.

Lavrov stressed the deal is supposed to be a package agreement that ensures the safety of Ukrainian grain exports and removes barriers to Russian exports. He expressed dissatisfaction with the deal. He said Ukrainian grain is being exported, but noted that there are still restrictions on exports of Russian farm products and fertilizers. The minister said, "If the package is half-implemented, then the issue of extension becomes quite complicated."

On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

After the meeting, Zelenskyy said the two agreed that renewing the grain deal is of "critical importance." Guterres noted that he will continue to try to get the countries to agree to an extension of the agreement.