“Can you believe it? Africa is now pinning its hopes on an extension of the grain export initiative from Ukraine and Russia!”
Negotiations are currently underway to determine whether or not a two-month extension will be granted for the Ukraine-Russia grain deal, which is set to expire in just three short days.
Delegations from Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, and the United Nations are all involved in these talks, but tensions are running high. The United States has accused Russia of prioritizing their own interests and threatening to pull out of the deal if their conditions are not met.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) aims to facilitate the movement of grain and fertiliser from Russia and Ukraine to Africa and other parts of the world. However, Russia has recently expressed concern that only 3% of the grain is going to Africa. If the current situation persists, they have threatened to send grain to Africa free of charge – a move that many perceive as a political stunt.
The World Food Programme has chartered vessels to transport around 600,000 tonnes of grain in support of its humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Yemen. However, if no new deal is brokered by May 18th, Russia has indicated that they will withdraw from the current arrangement.
US Ambassador Jim O’Brien has called out Russia for their apparent greed and selfishness, stating that they are perfectly capable of sending food and fertiliser to those in need without sanctions. In fact, the US has even offered to help African buyers source grain from Russia if necessary. Another issue at hand is the opening of the ammonia pipeline, which is necessary for Russia to export fertiliser. The US believes that it is up to Russia to ensure that this pipeline is opened, as African countries will suffer catastrophic crop loss without access to fertiliser.
As we approach the deadline, Turkish, Russian, Ukrainian, and UN delegates remain locked in tense negotiations. The hope is that the corridor will remain open for another two months, but only time will tell whether or not this will come to fruition.