The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyi, instructed the Stavka to prepare for the continuation of the “grain corridor”. First of all – to protect the ports and infrastructure of the grain initiative. Did Ukraine really have a plan “B” after Russia announced its withdrawal from the “grain agreement”?
The story tells about it TSN
Odesa has been awake for the fourth day in a row. Fires in the port are extinguished here and damages are calculated. The Russians are targeting grain terminals, calling it “revenge strikes for the Crimean bridge.” In fact, this is another act of terrorism and an attempt to throw Ukraine out of the international food market.
The last vessel loaded with Ukrainian grain left the port of Odessa on Monday, July 17. The next day, after the Crimean bridge “tired” for the second time, Russia announced its withdrawal from the “grain agreement”.
A few days later, the Kremlin decided to negotiate. They said they would return to their obligations if their demands were met. Moscow is actually demanding the easing of sanctions. However, while the Russian ultimatum hung in the air. Instead, Ukraine and the entire civilized world are looking for an opportunity to revive the grain corridor in the Black Sea.
What did the “grain agreement” give Ukraine
The President of the Ukrainian Grain Association, Mykola Gorbachev, says that the sale of Ukrainian grain brought Ukraine, first of all, billions of dollars in foreign exchange earnings. Its volume in the state directly affects the hryvnia exchange rate.
According to him, almost 33 million tons were shipped from Ukrainian ports even though the ships were idle for months.
Transportation by sea is the cheapest way and it accounts for 46% of Ukrainian agricultural exports. Another third goes through the Danube ports, the rest is transported by railway (16%) and trucks (8%).
Through this “grain corridor” Ukrainian grain reached dozens of countries. Moreover, the largest buyer was China and Asian countries, in particular Turkey. In second place are European countries, and most importantly, African countries.
Ukrainian grain, thanks to its supply to African countries, played not only an economic role for Ukraine, but also a political one. Andrii Klymenko, head of the Institute of Strategic Black Sea Studies, claims that the countries of the African continent, which vote in the UN and are traditionally loyal to Moscow, have changed their attitude towards our country.
“This gives us the opportunity to attract to the ranks of those who support Ukraine in the war with Russia, the countries of Africa, Asia, which suffer from food shortages or high food prices. This has a very high political price,” he says.
The grain deal became a reputational fiasco for the Russian dictator. Even now, the Kremlin is trying to convince everyone that it is Russia, not Ukraine, that is saving the world from hunger. And they say that everyone interferes.
“This is a lie and manipulation. They [росіяни] increased the export of grain products during this war year. They have a record export of agricultural products for the entire history of Russia,” noted Mykola Gorbachev.
How the world reacted
By withdrawing from the grain agreement, Russia shot itself in the foot. The world’s reaction was surprisingly unequivocal.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres emphasized that the termination of the agreement would be “a blow to those in need everywhere”. The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, categorically advocated the continuation of the “grain corridor”. Even China and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kenya did not remain silent, calling withdrawal from the agreement a knife in the back. However, most of all, everyone is waiting for the reaction of the President of Turkey.
“The whole world says that the grain agreement is 99% Erdoğan and the rest is the UN. This is a geopolitical project of Erdogan, who wants to be the leader of the Islamic world. And in this Islamic world there are a lot of African countries and a lot of Asian countries,” Andriy Klymenko reminded.
Erdogan has already suggested that he will persuade Putin to return to the grain agreement, hinting to the Europeans that they too must make concessions. But here it is worth mentioning how at the end of October 2022, during another attempt of Russia’s démarche, Turkish ships entered Ukrainian ports without hindrance for several days. And this is what Turkey can offer Ukraine and the world to get out of the food crisis that is brewing.
“The first possibility, which would be the most pleasant for us, would be if Turkey provided us with its bulk fleet – those ships that can be loaded with grain. I don’t think that Russia would be tempted to attack the Turkish fleet”, Mykola Gorbachev believes.
Termination of the grain agreement hits Ukraine – and it must be recognized. In the first hours after the Kremlin’s statement, President Zelensky offered free navigation in the Black Sea. Without Russia.
“Even without the Russian Federation, we must do everything so that we can use this Black Sea corridor. We are not afraid,” the Ukrainian leader said.
However, at the moment this option is rather a fantasy. In response, Russia began to search the port infrastructure and announced that any ship would be considered a target. So here we are talking, first of all, about the physical protection of the coast.
“Today, we need more powerful anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems to protect the port infrastructure. This is already a question, in particular, for our allies,” said the spokesman of the Ukrainian Volunteer Army “South” Serhii Bratchuk.
Ukraine was preparing for similar actions of Russia. Today, a guarantee insurance fund for ship owners in the amount of 20 billion hryvnias is provided. This amount will be enough to cover the cost of 30 ships in the event of their destruction. Moreover, the export of Ukrainian grain will not stop with the blocking of the Black Sea. After all, there are also the Danube ports of Ismail and Reni and so-called dry ports. However, the price of the question arises here.
“If the cheapest logistic route for Ukrainian grain is not found in the next month or two, then next year there will be no problem with transportation at all, because nothing will be exported. Ukraine will grow only what will be consumed within the country,” Mykola Gorbachev noted.
And this is already a global problem for the world. Without Ukraine, food prices in the world will jump by 10-12%. The price of wheat on the markets has already crept up. For European countries, this is the risk of another migration wave from poor African countries. These challenges must be understood on the global stage. And here something more than concern is needed.
▶ On the TSN YouTube channel, you can watch the video at this link “Zelensky instructed to prepare for the operation of the grain corridor. Does Ukraine have a “plan B”?”
It will be recalled that on Friday, July 21, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a telephone conversation with the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during which the parties discussed the situation with the “grain agreement”.