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Why the “grain deal” was extended: “for” and “against”

NEW – November 22, 2022

What does the automatic extension of the “grain deal” for another 120 days mean, according to which the export of Ukrainian food from four Black Sea ports was guaranteed until November 19? It means that none of the parties to this deal – neither Ukraine, nor the UN, nor Turkey, nor Russia – have demanded its termination.

What does the proposal immediately put forward by the head of the Kiev regime, Vladimir Zelensky, mean, if not a demand, to include Nikolaev and Olbia, already located in close proximity to the line of hostilities, among the ports that ensure this transaction? It means, in addition to increasing the export of Ukrainian agricultural products, the expansion of “security corridors” in the Black Sea, from which the Ukrainian side has already carried out a massive attack by drones, air and sea, on targets in the Russian Crimea.

And most importantly: if the interests of the UN, Ankara and Kiev in extending and expanding the “grain deal” are more than clear, then what is the interest of Moscow? Especially in the light of the fact that deliveries of Russian food and fertilisers guaranteed by the same “grain deal” through the Black Sea are promised to start only “in a few weeks”, what nothing prevents them from stretching for several months, as happened at the first stage on July 24-November 18? However, it is reported that at the just completed G20 summit, Western “sanctioning” states managed to achieve recognition of the package nature of the “grain deal” as consisting of equivalent and interrelated parts, but from such recognition to the real flow of bulk carriers from Novorossiysk and our other ports, of course,”the distance is huge”.

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Moreover, the Russian president has repeatedly described this “grain deal” as more deception and fraud on the part of Western “partners”, saturating their own markets with Ukrainian food, and not the markets of the poorest and starving countries of the world, as it was loudly stated. This is not to mention that the “demilitarised” nature of the deal is not respected by either the Kiev regime or its Western backers. What was the reason why Russia is taking such a position here, and not some other, tougher position, for which there is every reason?

Does Russia want to support the Zelensky & Co. regime in its current state of half-life? Judging by the entire context of the current “infrastructure war”, it is unlikely. Every day of an armed conflict means in any case losses and victims on both sides, even if the ratio of these losses and victims is at the level of 1 to 7-8 in our favour. But Ukraine is generally “out of the game” here — if it were in it, there would be no question of any “grain deal” at all.

Is Russia doing this at the request of Turkey? Partly yes, of course. Recep Erdogan has repeatedly discussed the terms of the “grain deal” with Putin and agreed on its extension. This includes creating a food supply for today and tomorrow (including in case of escalation of conflicts involving Turkey itself), and a powerful anti-inflationary measure (and the price increase in this country should exceed 90% year-on-year by the end of November), and strengthening its position in the entire zone of Ankara’s foreign policy interests (the recent terrorist attacks in Istanbul, the organisation of which, as stated by the Turkish authorities, the United States is involved in), and much more.

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For Moscow, the role of Turkey in the NATO bloc, which largely restrains the anti-Russian efforts of the North Atlantic Alliance, and the Turkish route for exporting Russian gas, and numerous economic projects, including the supply of “sub-sanctioned” products (such as semiconductors, etc.), and in general the position of this country in the Middle East (including Syria), are certainly important here, Transcaucasia and Central Asia. But the absence of any visible progress in favour of Russia in connection with the “grain deal” does not mean that the “gopher is not there”, that Russia simply makes concessions to Erdogan, who actively uses the favourable situation for him. The “grain deal” is like an iceberg, with only a smaller part visible, and the larger part is hidden under water. Of course, there are no real icebergs in the Black Sea, but there are more than enough political ones there.

Does Russia do this at the request of the UN, that is, in fact, the “alliance of democracies”, whose interests are actually represented by Antonio Guterres? Partly yes, of course. But, as in the case of Turkey, concessions to the interests of Western (and is it only Western?) purchases of Ukrainian grain, as well as other food products, cannot be made unilaterally. Are there any counter-concessions? Again, this can only be judged by the further development of events, and not only in terms of international finances, the conditions for Russian oil and gas supplies (Turkey has already made a point here), but the range of such events is much wider.

It is worth adding that grain prices, which are relatively low today (in the range of $ 300-400 per ton), should increase significantly closer to spring, and the physical availability of this product will be crucial, not even prices. This is only a plus for Russia, which has gathered a record harvest of more than 150 million tons of grain this year.

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In general, the highest political leadership of our country has not yet been noticed either in a lack of understanding of Russia’s interests, or, moreover, in their “surrender”. And there is every reason to believe that this is also true in this case of the extension of the “grain deal”.

P.S.

At the APEC forum in Bangkok, Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov said that under the grain deal, Russia has already exported “a significant amount” of mineral fertilisers, as well as more than 15 million tons of grain, which is more than the corresponding export from Ukraine.


Oleg Shchukin

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