(GENEVA) Russia on Monday offered to extend the Ukrainian grain export deal, which expires on March 18, for just 60 days, an offer criticized by Kyiv, which sees it as a challenge to the initial agreement.

“The ‘Black Sea Grain Initiative’ agreement involves at least 120 days of extension, Russia’s position to extend it by only 60 days therefore contradicts the document signed by Turkey and the UN,” he said. Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov tweeted, adding that Kyiv was waiting for the “official position” of the United Nations and Ankara, as “guarantors of the initiative”.

In New York, Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, assured that “the United Nations remains fully engaged in the Black Sea Grains Initiative and in working to facilitate the export of Russian fertilizers and feed”.

A “full” statement is expected before nightfall in Geneva, according to Dujarric.

Earlier, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Verchinin had said, after talks in Geneva with UN officials, that Moscow “does not object to a further extension of the ‘Development Initiative’. the Black Sea “after the expiration of his second term on March 18 but only for 60 days”.

“Our future position will be determined by tangible progress in normalizing our agricultural exports, not in words but in deeds. This includes bank payments, transport logistics, insurance, the ‘thaw’ of financial activities and the supply of ammonia through the ‘Togliatti-Odessa’ pipeline,” Verchinin said.

He said he had “frank and thorough” talks in the Swiss city with the head of UN humanitarian affairs Martin Griffiths and the secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Rebeca Grynspan. .

These talks, he said, served to “confirm once again that while commercial exports of Ukrainian products are occurring at a steady pace and bringing huge profits to Kyiv, the restrictions imposed on Russian agricultural exporters are still in place “.

This so-called Black Sea Agreement, signed last July for 120 days between the United Nations, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey, has resulted in alleviating the global food crisis caused by the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. It was renewed in November for four months and allowed the export of more than 24 million tons of grain from Ukrainian ports, according to the UN.

China is the first recipient of exports under the agreement, Spain the second, before Turkey the third.

Ukraine last week called for international efforts to keep open the Black Sea shipping lanes used to transport its grain and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called at the G20 in early March for Moscow to renew the agreement.

But Russia is not satisfied with another agreement – bilateral – also signed last July with the UN on Russian fertilizer exports.

It runs for three years.

Moscow complains that its exports of fertilizer, a basic necessity for world agriculture, are de facto blocked despite not falling under the sanctions imposed by Western countries since the start of the war.

“The food and fertilizer sanctions exemptions announced by Washington, Brussels and London are essentially inactive,” Verchinin reiterated on Monday.