The UN-backed agreement allowing Ukrainian grain exports safe passage through the Black Sea will be extended by 120 days, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday.
Zelensky said Kyiv reached the “key decision” with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, both of whom brokered the deal on July 22.
“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 fertilizers from Ukraine,” Guterres said on Twitter.
“The initiative demonstrates the importance of discreet diplomacy in finding multilateral solutions,” he added following days of discussions behind closed doors on its extension.
Russia confirmed that it had allowed the extension of the Ukraine grain deal after the extension was announced by the UN, Ankara and Kyiv.
"The Russian side is also allowing for the technical extension of the grain initiative without changes in terms or scope," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, after fears that the landmark deal allowing the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports would not be reconvened.
The first deal allowed Ukraine, one of the world’s top grain producers, to export 10.2 million tons of grain blocked by Russia's invasion.
The second deal was on the export of Russian food and fertilizers despite Western sanctions imposed on Moscow following its invasion.
Moscow has complained that a second deal exempting Russian fertilizers from sanctions was not being honored and briefly pulled out of the agreement in October.
The 120-day Black Sea Grain Initiative expires this Saturday and was due to roll over unless there were objections.
The United Nations had sought to renew the deal for one year.
AFP contributed reporting.