Ukrainian and Turkish officials said Thursday an agreement allowing for the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea will continue for another four months under its current terms.
The extension came days ahead of the potential expiration of the original deal that Turkey and the United Nations brokered in July to allow for the resumption of grain shipments that had been interrupted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the extension, saying in a statement the U.N. is committed to ensuring “this vital supply line continues to function smoothly.”
He added that the U.N. is also committed to removing obstacles regarding a linked agreement for exports of food and fertilizers from Russia.
“Both agreements signed in Istanbul three months ago are essential to bring down the prices of food and fertilizer and avoid a global food crisis,” Guterres said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a tweet announcing the extension that Ukraine, Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “made key decision in the global fight against the food crisis.”
The Black Sea Grain initiative has facilitated the export of 11 million metric tons of Ukrainian grain, two-thirds of which have gone to developing countries.
Ukrainian officials reported fresh missile strikes Thursday in multiple parts of the country, with targets including gas facilities.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted Thursday morning that he was speaking by phone with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken as Russia carried out “another massive missile attack on Ukraine.”
Kuleba said he thanked the United States for providing military aid, and that he stressed the need for speeding up deliveries of air defense systems.
He cited the success of the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System that Ukrainian forces began using earlier this month. He also said he is convinced the time has come for Ukraine to receive the more advanced U.S. Patriot air defense system.