Black Sea grain deal slow to get moving after extension

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UNITED NATIONS: A deal allowing the safe wartime export of grain and fertiliser from Ukrainian Black Sea ports has not yet resumed full operations, the United Nations said on Friday (May 26), having come to a halt before Russia's decision last week to extend it.

The pact called the Black Sea Grain Initiative, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last July with Russia and Ukraine to try to ease a global food crisis aggravated by Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, covers three ports, but no ships have been authorised to travel to Pivdennyi port since Apr 29, the UN said.

The United Nations and Turkey "are working closely with the rest of the parties with the aim to resume full operations ... and lift all impediments that obstruct operations and limit the scope of the initiative," the UN said in a statement.

Ukraine accused Russia on Tuesday of effectively cutting Pivdennyi port out of the Black Sea deal as Russia complained that it had been unable to export ammonia via a pipeline to Pivdennyi under the agreement.

The UN said on Friday that the Black Sea deal also provides for the exports of fertiliser, including ammonia, but "there have been no such exports so far".


Under the Black Sea grain export agreement, a Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul - made up of officials from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the UN - authorises ships and conducts inbound and outbound inspections of the vessels.

"According to information shared by the Ukrainian delegation with the parties at the JCC, there are 54 vessels waiting to move to Ukrainian ports. Out of these, 11 applications have been shared with the JCC for registration," the UN said.

No new ships were registered on Thursday by the JCC, but two were agreed on Friday, the UN said, adding that there are currently 13 vessels loading in Ukrainian ports - six in Chornomorsk and seven in Odesa.

It also said that the average number of daily inbound and outbound inspections had dropped to 3.2 during May - the lowest level since operations began last August.

Russia signalled on Thursday that if demands to improve its grain and fertiliser exports are not met then it will not extend the deal beyond Jul 17. It made the same threat and demands in March, before agreeing last week to renew it for 60 days.


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