Russia suggests 60-day extension of grain export deal with Ukraine

Russia says it does not object to another extension of a grain export deal with Ukraine, if it is only for 60 days, instead of 120 days.

The deal, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, was concluded in July last year to ensure the safe passage of ships exporting Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea in order to prevent a global food crisis.

The agreement was extended in November of last year for 120 days, and it is set to expire again on March 18.

Russian officials had expressed unwillingness to extend the deal, saying that Ukrainian grain is being exported, but exports of Russian farm products are being stalled.

The officials argued that the deal was supposed to be a parallel agreement.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin released a statement after he met UN officials in Geneva on Monday.

Vershinin said that Russia does not object to another extension of the Black Sea Initiative, but only for 60 days.

The UN said it noted the Russian position and that it remained "fully committed to the Black Sea Grain Initiative, as well as a to efforts to facilitate the export of Russian food and fertilizer."

Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov tweeted, in response, that the agreement involves at least 120 days of extension, therefore Russia's position to extend the deal only for 60 days contradicts the documents signed by Turkey and the UN.