At the request of Ukraine, Turkey detained a Russian-flagged cargo ship as it was carrying grain from the port of Berdyansk. The problem will exacerbate when Recep Erdogan leaves politics. The Russian Federation urgently needs to build alternative corridors for the delivery of goods to the south.
The Russia-leased Kazakh ship Zhibek Zholy, with 7,000 tons of grain on board, was supposed to unload the grain in the port of Karasu, from where it would be shipped to the province of Konya. However, since July 1, the cargo ship has been anchored at the entrance to the port. Turkey seized the ship at Kyiv's request. According to the Ukrainian side, the grain allegedly belongs to Ukraine.
Ukraine's Ambassador to Ankara Vasily Bodnar pointed out "full cooperation" with Turkey.
"The ship, which is now staying at the entrance to the port, has been detained by Turkish customs authorities," he said.
The Turkish press has a different explanation to the incident. Politikyol.com wrote that as long as the ship could not enter the port of Karasu due to the lack of necessary permits, Ukraine demanded Turkey should seize the ship.
According to the website, the ship will be able to enter the port of Karasu and unload the grain if the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Trade and the Ministry of Transport give permission for that.
If there are no necessary permits, the ship will leave Karasu for another port.
However, the problem with Ukraine and Turkey will persist in the future for a very long time. The territories of Ukraine that Russia has taken under control currently conduct harvesting campaigns. This grain harvest will be Russian, but Kyiv is not going to give up on it.
Sergei Markov, Director of the Institute for Political Studies, told Pravda. Ru that the grain did not belong to Russia or Ukraine. It belongs to the farmers who grow the crop, he said. They sell it to buyers in the form of trading companies. Trading companies export it and sell it on the world market.
The expert assesses Kyiv's actions as an attempt to "starve farmers to death." Sergei Markov believes that it is better to negotiate with Turkey.
"I think that there are such opportunities, and the Turks will be ready to do it. The best compromise here is an option when this grain is exported, let's say, by grain carriers under the Turkish flag," the political scientist said.
"We must fight to ensure that grain carriers under the Russian flag could safely travel around the world, but it is difficult to accomplish this now, since the United States and the European Union are waging a war against Russia,” he added.
Exporting grain, but also hydrocarbons, etc. through the Bosphorus has been getting problematic lately as Kiev has been losing territories. Therefore, Russia's prime goal is to create alternative routes to Asia, where Russian commodity flows will be redirected. It is no coincidence that Putin made his first visit abroad since the start of the special operation to the Caspian Summit in Turkmenistan.
In Turkmenistan, he discussed the route to India through the so-called North-South corridor (aka the Persian Corridor, through Central Asia and Iran. The last time it was highly important during the Great Patriotic War — when Lend-Lease supplies were transferred through Iran to the USSR.
The idea has been discussed in the Russian government since 2000. An agreement was signed in 2002 between Russia, Iran and India on the construction of a railway and a highway along that corridor. It is only today when this project has all chances to become materialized. Russia will be able to reach the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean through the Caspian Sea and Iran to reach the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia from there.
Turkey will hold presidential and parliamentary elections in a year. Due to the sharply falling economy, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is losing chances for re-election, and all his rivals, if they win, will be much more intolerant of Russia.
Therefore, Turkey may indeed block the Bosphorus for Russia, and Moscow should hurry with alternative routes.