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An agreement has been reached to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) – a day before it was due to end – and allow Turkish ships held up in the Ukrainian ports of Mykolaiv and Olvia to leave, AgriCensus quoted Turkish president Recep Erdogan as saying on his official Twitter account yesterday.

“Through the efforts of our country, the support of our Russian friends and the contribution of our Ukrainian friends, it was decided to extend the agreement on the Black Sea grain corridor for another two months,” the statement said.

The statement was issued a day before the Russian deadline of 18 May for renewing the BSGI, the report on the same day as the announcement said.

The BSGI was signed on 27 July 2022 to allow agricultural food exports from Ukraine’s three Black Sea ports – Odessa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi – and was extended last November and on 17 March.

Erdogan said the parties involved in the deal – Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations (UN) – would continue to work to ensure all the terms of the agreement were met and the deal would be extended further.

“In addition, our Russian friends have stated that they will not interfere with the exit of Turkish ships from the ports of Mykolaiv and Olvia,” Erdogan was quoted as saying.

From its understanding, AgriCensus said this meant Turkish vessels that had been stuck in the Ukrainian ports since the war started on 24 February last year, would finally be allowed to leave.

According to trade sources, up to 10 Turkish vessels have been held up at the ports.

Market sources were expecting the extension to be announced for at least another 60 days, with some claiming Russia would agree to this to support Erdogan’s presidential candidature, as the grain deal had been held up as one of his “achievements”, AgriCensus wrote.

Maria Zakharova, the official Russian representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed the deal had been extended for 60 days, but also stated that the Russian position on the deal had not changed, meaning the country would continue to demand the relaxation of some current restrictions, the report said.

While confirming the extension of the deal until 18 July, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov cautioned that the Russian side had been blocking the inspection of vessels willing to enter the Black Sea since April, which had hampered corridor operations.

“We welcome the continuation of the initiative but emphasise that it must work effectively. For this, it is necessary to eliminate the problems that Russia has been creating for several months,” Kubrakov added.