This week, Ukraine will ask Turkey and the UN to start negotiations on extending the term of the so-called

grain deal, including the ports in the area of ​​the city of Mykolaiv, Reuters reported, citing a senior Ukrainian official.

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The Black Sea Grain Corridor deal brokered by the UN and Turkey last July allowed grain to be exported from three Ukrainian ports.

The agreement was extended in November and will expire on March 18 if an extension is not agreed.

"An official proposal from our side will come out this week about the need to work on the extension," Yuriy Vaskov, Ukraine's deputy reconstruction minister, told Reuters in an interview.

According to him, the exact date of the negotiations, which were previously held in Turkey, has not yet been determined.

"We will ask for... an extension not for 120 days, but for at least one year, because the Ukrainian and global agricultural markets should be able to plan the volumes (of exports) in the long term," Vaskov said.

He said Ukraine would push for an increase in the number of inspection teams to eliminate the backlog of ships waiting to be inspected.

Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russia of delaying inspections of ships carrying Ukrainian agricultural goods, leading to reduced supplies and losses for traders.

Russia rejects these accusations, saying it is fulfilling all its obligations under the grain export agreement.

According to Vaskov, since November, the situation with the inspections has not changed and there are only three inspection teams from the Russian side.

"There is no positive dynamic. At the same time, the UN, Turkey and Ukraine are ready to conduct 40 inspections a day if necessary. And there is such a need - about 140 ships are waiting for inspection," he said.

Ukraine exports about 3 million tons of agricultural products a month under the agreement, but Vaskov said the country is able to export 6 million tons a month from Odessa ports and increase that capacity to 8 million tons if included and the ports in Mykolaiv.

Vaskov said the ports of Mykolaiv, which before the Russian invasion were responsible for about 35 percent of Ukraine's food exports, were ready to join the initiative and would need a maximum of two weeks to get up and running.

Russian invasion of Ukraine

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