MOSCOW: Senior Russian officials said on Friday the Black Sea grain deal could not be extended under current circumstances but that Moscow was working to ensure that poorer countries would not suffer food shortages when it ends.

The deal, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July 2022, allowed Ukraine to resume sea-borne grain exports to help tackle a global food crisis the UN said had been exacerbated by Europe’s deadliest conflict since World War Two.

Last month, Moscow reluctantly agreed to extend the deal, known by diplomats as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, until July 17 on condition that it also received help with its own food and fertiliser exports. Russia says this help has not materialised.

“It is impossible to update this deal, and under these conditions, I believe, it is also impossible to extend it because the limit of our patience and desire to implement it has been exhausted,” Interfax news agency cited the speaker of the upper house of parliament, Valentina Matviyenko, as saying.

Matviyenko said Russia would seek “other formats” to ensure that poorer countries did not suffer from the collapse of the grain deal.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2023

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