Turkish president says Black Sea grain deal extended for 60 days

17 May 2023 | Masha Belikova

An agreement has finally been reached to extend the Black Sea grain deal and allow Turkish ships stuck in the Ukrainian ports of Mykolaiv and Olvia to leave, Turkish president Recep Erdogan said on his official Twitter account Wednesday.

“Through the efforts of our country, the support of our Russian friends and the contribution of our Ukrainian friends, it was decided to extend the agreement on the Black Sea Grain Corridor for another two months,” the statement said.

This comes just a day before the Russian deadline for renewing the previous agreement on May 18.

Erdogan also said the parties involved in the deal – Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the UN – would continue to work to ensure all the terms of the agreement were met and the deal would be extended further.

“In addition, our Russian friends have stated that they will not interfere with the exit of Turkish ships from the ports of Mykolaiv and Olvia,” Erdogan said.

"We are grateful to them for this."

Agricensus understands that this means Turkish vessels that have been stuck in the Ukrainian ports since the war started on February 24, 2022, will finally be allowed to leave the ports.

According to trade sources, there are up to ten Turkish vessels stuck.

Market sources were expecting the extension to be announced at least for another 60 days, as the belief was also that Russia would agree on this to support Erdogan’s presidential candidature, as the grain deal has been billed as one of his “achievements.”

Maria Zakharova, the official Russian representative of the ministry of foreign affairs, confirmed the deal was extended for 60 days, but also stated that the Russian position on the deal had not changed, meaning the country would continue to demand the relaxation of a list of the current restrictions. 

Oleksandr Kubrakov, the Ukrainian infrastructure minister, also confirmed the extension of the deal until July 18 but cautioned that the Russian side had been blocking the inspection of the vessels willing to enter the black sea since April, which has hampered corridor operations. 

"We welcome the continuation of the Initiative, but emphasize that it must work effectively. For this, it is necessary to eliminate the problems that Russia has been creating for several months in a row by sabotaging inspections and registering a new fleet," Kubrakov said.

"We hope that our partners will make every effort to ensure that the grain agreement starts working fully for the food security of the world and that Russia will eventually stop using food as a weapon and for blackmail."

This story was updated to add comments from Russian and Ukrainian officials.