Putin gives Erdogan a good grain shake

Kyiv's guarantees on the grain export deal meant nothing to Moscow. Russia wanted Turkey in the game.

Putin did not need Ukraine's guarantees

Russian President Vladimir Putin explained why Moscow returned to the grain export deal. Moscow suspended its participation in the deal after Ukrainian drones attacked Russian warships in the Sevastopol Bay on October 29.

Speaking on Wednesday via video link, Putin noted that Ukraine used the humanitarian corridor to strike the Russian Black Sea Fleet. In this regard, he decided to suspend the participation of the Russian Federation in grain convoys."

"We demanded guarantees from the Ukrainian side that nothing like this would happen in the future. Our Turkish partners acted as mediators in clarifying this situation. Turkey informed the Russian Defence Ministry that Ukraine pledged not to use humanitarian corridors for military purposes," the president said.

He noted that he personally instructed the Russian Ministry of Defense to resume participation in this work. At the same time, Russia reserved the right to withdraw from the deal should Ukraine fail to keep its promise.

"If we withdraw from this agreement in the future, we will supply Ukraine's entire volume to impoverished countries for free," Putin said.

"We will not interfere with grain supplies from the territory of Ukraine to Turkey in the future either," Putin said making references to Turkey's neutrality in the conflict as a whole, the capabilities of its processing industry, and Erdogan's efforts to ensure the interests of the poorest countries of the world.

The goal is to bring Erdogan to his senses

One can make the following conclusions from what Putin said:

  1. Putin and Erdogan approved the deal in person and they keep it under personal control.
  2. Ukraine did not give any guarantees to Russia. Ukraine gave them to Turkey. Therefore, Moscow has no chance to lose face. It also appears that Turkey's guarantees are not absolutely reliable either. However, it is obvious that the deal is extremely important for Ankara. Turkey will try very hard. Putin casually noted why it was so important for Ankara: Turkey processes grain and then sells semi-finished products.
  3. Erdogan said earlier that Turkey buys grain from Ukraine at a discount of up to 25 percent. Turkey is the world's largest exporter of flour and second largest exporter of macaroni products. At the same time, Turkey imports most of its wheat from Russia (70 percent) and Ukraine (17 percent).
  4. Turkey has been given carte blanche to use Ukrainian grain. Erdogan is facing elections next year, and Washington will do its best to make him leave office.
  5. Putin made overtures to impoverished countries to win a larger number of abstainers at the UN. Like it or not, but image means a lot in this world. There is the G20 summit coming, and Putin will have something to say about Russia's humanitarian efforts in the name of the population of the globe.

Turkey's loyalty on many critical issues at stake

The risks for the Russian Federation are obvious: Ukraine will secretly use the corridor for the arms supplies and terrorist attacks. There are many other things that Russia has to deal with, and Turkey appears to be the best partner at this point, especially today.

These issues include:

  • The Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Ankara agreed to entrust the peaceful settlement of the conflict in Karabakh to Russia. Negotiations were held with Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan in Moscow, and Russian peacekeepers are going to stay in the conflict zone for another ten years. In addition, they decided not to pedal the status of Karabakh.
  • The Bosphorus Strait, which Turkey keeps closed for NATO countries (with the exception of Romania and Bulgaria, as Black Sea countries). If Turkey opens the Bosphorus, Russia will have zero guarantees for its fleet.
  • Air communication with Europe via Turkey saves a lot of fuel.
  • The only reliable gas pipeline to Europe goes through Turkey (the Turkish Stream). This implies huge income for the Russian Federation that can be used for the special operation.
  • Turkey remains a negotiator with the US on the admission of Russian grain and fertilizers to Western markets. Guarantees of this access imply the lifting of sanctions.

Grain export deal reference: On July 22, a package of documents was signed in Istanbul to solve the problem of food and fertilizer supplies to world markets. The documents regulate the procedure to export grain from Kyiv-controlled Black Sea ports. The Joint Coordination Center created by the Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukraine and the UN exercises control over the inspection of ships to prevent the smuggling of weapons and exclude provocations. The grain export deal was concluded for a period of 120 days. It expires in the second half of November.

A memorandum was concluded between the Russian Federation and the UN to have the UN involved in the work to lift anti-Russian restrictions that prevent exports of agricultural products and fertilizers. The memorandum was signed for a period of three years.

Exports of Russian grain and fertilizer products are still restricted. In particular, Russian ships with food and fertilizer products are still not allowed to enter European ports due to sanctions. There are serious problems with their insurance too.

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