Et was one of those displays of anger typical of Vladimir Putin. “We have done everything to ensure that this agreement comes about,” said Russia’s president last week at his “Eastern Economic Forum” in Vladivostok. “Then it turned out that we had just been roughly ripped off, as the saying goes. screwed. And not just us, but the poorest countries, under the pretense of honoring the deal. That’s obvious.”
The agreement, which Putin complained about, applies to the export of Ukrainian grain from three Ukrainian ports blocked by Russia: Odessa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhne. It was concluded on July 22nd in Istanbul, mediated by the United Nations, for an initial period of 120 days and, according to the formula, “can be automatically extended”. But any of the three parties – Russia, Ukraine and Turkey – can end the “Black Sea Grains Initiative” altogether or demand changes to it – and Moscow is threatening to do so.
Putin does not want to speak to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. As in many controversial issues, he turns to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The conversation between the two about the “grain deal” was “necessary”, even “overdue”, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. The summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on Thursday and Friday in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, is to provide the framework for this, at which Erdogan – Turkey is not a member – is taking part as a guest.
Actually, the agreement is a success story. At times, around 20 million tons of grain were blocked in the “granary of Europe”. Exports are now progressing. “In August, our total export of agricultural products was around five million tons,” says Olexandr Kubrakow, Ukraine’s Minister of Infrastructure, of which 1.7 million tons went through the Black Sea ports, 1.5 million through alternate ports on the Danube, and the rest by truck and trains. According to Kubrakow, in April it was only 300,000 tons, in June and July together around three million tons. Around twelve million tons of old stocks are therefore still in storage.
The price of wheat has fallen again
“If the positive dynamics continue, we could reach five million tons per month from the Black Sea ports alone, as before,” says Kubrakov. The Joint Coordination Center (JCC) in Istanbul, where representatives of Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the UN have been implementing the agreement since the end of July, reports almost daily that more cargo ships have been allowed to leave one of the three ports. As of last Monday, 147 entries into and 122 exits from the ports were allowed, according to JCC, exporting more than 2.7 million tons of grain and other foodstuffs such as sunflower products. The price of wheat, for example, has fallen again from its highs in early March and mid-May. Ayşegül Selişik from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN cites the fact that wheat is being exported from Ukrainian ports again as a result of the agreement as one of the reasons for this. But since Putin’s outburst, prices have risen again.
Russia’s president appeared in Vladivostok first and foremost as an advocate for the “partners in Africa”, speaking of a “renewed common fraud”. If Turkey is not taken into account as a “mediating country”, “almost all” Ukrainian grain “is not delivered to developing countries, but to EU countries,” said Putin. This is of course misleading. The JCC tells the FAZ that as of Monday, 28 percent of grain and other food had been shipped to countries with low per capita incomes, most of it to Egypt (10 percent), Iran and India (5 percent each). 27 percent went to middle-income countries, above all to Turkey (19 percent) and China (8 percent). 44 percent were delivered to high-income countries, followed by Spain (13 percent), the Netherlands (8 percent) and Italy (7 percent).