Russia and Ukraine to resume grain exports, crucial Turkey mediation

Lorenzo Bagnato

2 November 2022 - 16:28

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Russia backed down from the grain agreement last week after attacks on the Black Sea fleet. Today, thanks to Turkish and UN mediation, Russia and Ukraine resumed shippings.

Russia and Ukraine to resume grain exports, crucial Turkey mediation

When the war in Ukraine broke out on February 24th, it sparked many fears in the entire world. Most of the West was frightened at the idea of a possible nuclear escalation, as well as the start of the Third World War. What many other countries were afraid of, however, was much more mundane and yet as crucial for them.

Ukraine and Russia are two of the largest exporters of grain, corn and wheat in the World. Most if not all of their routes go through the Black Sea, and they reach far flung countries on all continents. But, most importantly, their grain reaches Third World countries whose population would otherwise starve.

After the outbreak of the war, these exports were halted, and grain prices skyrocketed in the global market leaving millions to starve. Luckily for them, Ukraine and Russia (with the intermediation of the UN and Turkey) reached an agreement on grain exports. They would continue only with the assurance that neither side would exploit this agreement for military operations.

However, Ukraine seemingly broke the pact last week, when the Russian fleet in Sebastopol was attacked and several ships were destroyed. Sebastopol is the capital of Crimea, the region illegally invaded by Russia in 2014, and it was Ukraine’s biggest port.

After the attack, Russia immediately backed down from the grain export agreement, sparking fears in many African and Middle Eastern countries once again.

Turkey’s mediation

Only on Wednesday was Russia finally convinced to return to the table. Thanks to Turkish and UN mediation, Putin was convinced to re-establish the grain agreement. He, however, needed more guarantees this time.

Kyiv provided such guarantees, which were considered “sufficient” by the Russian Defence Ministry. What we know so far is that Ukraine pledged (again, through the mediation of Turkey) to never use the shipping corridor for military operations.

Another guarantee needed by Putin is that grain exports wouldn’t end only in Western hands. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reassured the Kremlin. He made sure that, once the shipping would resume, African nations in dire need of assistance like Somalia, Sudan and Djibouti would be prioritized.

Indeed, evidence shows that over a third of the grain exported from Ukraine under the agreement went to Third World countries. And the same goes for almost half of the wheat exports.

Grain prices, which soared on Saturday when Russia left the agreement, dropped by 6% since Monday. The grain agreement, however, will expire on November 19th, and many fear that Putin will use it as leverage at the Indonesia G20 summit.

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