The United Nations said on Saturday that a deal allowing for the safe export of grain from Ukrainian reports had been extended.

The UN did not specify the length of the renewal.

"The Black Sea Grain Initiative, signed in Istanbul on 22 July 2022, has been extended," the UN said in a statement, and thanked the Turkish government for its diplomatic and operational support of the deal.

Turkey's president Reccep Tayip Erdogan also confirmed the extension without specifying how long it would last.

Ukrainian deputy prime minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said in a tweet that the agreement had been extended for 120 days.

A day earlier, aid chief Martin Griffiths said that the UN was "doing everything possible" to ensure the Black Sea grain deal continues.

Disagreement between Russia and Ukraine

Russia and Ukraine had disagreed about the duration of an extension of the pact, which allows for the safe transportation of grain and foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports through the Black Sea despite the ongoing war.

The initial 120-day agreement struck with the UN and Turkey was extended in November for a further 120 days, and was due to expire at 21:00 GMT on Saturday.

Russia said it would only allow a further 60-day extension, while Ukraine insisted on a 120-day extension.

"Attempts by the aggressor to reduce the extension period are a manipulation to continue further blackmail and deepen a global food crisis. We have to prevent this," Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said.

No one could say with certainty what would happen when the deadline expired.

"We very much hope that the initiative will continue and the ships will continue to flow," Stephane Dujarric spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

According to the UN, Ukraine has exported nearly 25 million tons of food under the deal that has helped bring down global food prices.

"The world relies on these supplies," Griffiths said.

Russia's deadline on sanctions

Moscow says a parallel agreement has failed to facilitate Russian exports of grain and fertilizer through the Black Sea.

The West has imposed tough sanctions on Russia for its full-scale invasion and war in Ukraine. While its food and fertilizer exports are not under sanctions, Moscow says restrictions on payments, logistics and insurance industries are a barrier to shipments.

"If Brussels, Washington and London are genuinely interested to continue the export of food from Ukraine through the maritime humanitarian corridor then they have two months to exempt from their sanctions the entire chain of operations which accompany the Russian agricultural sector," Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the Security Council.

Griffiths admitted obstacles remain to help facilitate Russian food and fertilizer exports, notably the payment systems.

"It is vital for global food security that both of these agreements continue and should be fully implemented," he said.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the Council, "sanctions are not the issue."

"When it comes to sanctions we have gone to extraordinary lengths to communicate the clear carve-outs for food and fertilizers to governments and to the private sector," she said.