Turkey’s Erdogan: Putin's main supporter on Grain Agreement
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacted to the way grain is being exported from Ukraine by stating that the grain went to Western countries instead of poor countries. According to the grain agreement signed on 27 July 2022 in Istanbul by Ukraine, Russia, UN and Turkey in which Turkey is the mediator, the grain from Ukraine is exported to the world under the supervision of a Joint Coordination Center composed of representatives of the United Nations, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine.
Speaking during his visit to Croatia, Erdogan claimed that Putin was right and that grain exported from Ukraine goes to rich countries instead of poor countries. Erdogan said that the countries that impose sanctions on Russia import this grain, and it angers Putin.
Erdogan said “Energy prices are rising. Right now Europe is rushing to find ways to deal with this winter. The prices are very high and the West or Europe is in a rush about what to do with these prices.”
These statements by Erdogan came right after Putin's harsh statements on grain exports.
Speaking at an economic forum in the city of Vladivostok in Russia's Far East, Putin blamed the deal. He said grain exports were not going to the world's poorest countries as originally intended.
"What we see is a brazen deception ... a deception by the international community of our partners in Africa, and other countries that are in dire need of food. It's just a scam.”
In his strongest comments on the topic since the deal was made in July, Putin warned of a global food crisis if the situation was not addressed and said he would contact Erdogan to discuss amending the deal to restrict which countries can receive shipments.
Kremlin spokesman Peskov also pointed out that grain shipments from Ukraine did not go to poor countries: “Only 2 grain ships went to countries defined as poor by the United Nations.” Stating that it is extremely difficult and restricted for Russian food and fertilizer products to reach international markets, Peskov said that commercial ships cannot enter the ports.
Many experts say that Putin's speech is a threat to Western countries against the bad situation in the Ukraine war. The Ukrainian counteroffensive, which started in September, continues with Ukraine's gains on both the southern and eastern fronts.
According to Sedat Ergin, one of the prominent journalists in Hurriyet, one of Turkey’s leading newspapers, Turkey is moving away from the West on Ukraine. Ergin wrote “Erdogan excludes the Western world, which is a critical denominator of the war equation, from this balance policy, at least at the level of discourse. While using careful language against Russia and Ukraine, which is a necessity of this policy, we see that Erdogan does not feel bound by such a line when it comes to the attitude of Ukraine's ally, the West, in the war.”
Experienced journalist Taha Akyol, on the other hand, reminded that Erdogan criticized the West and NATO for not reacting harshly to Russia on the Ukraine issue in the opposition newspaper Karar. According to Akyol, one factor that prompted Erdogan to react harshly against the West is the West's constant criticism regarding the law, freedoms, and separation of powers to Turkey.
“In the face of the West's criticisms regarding the law, getting too close to Putin and purchasing S-400s could not create an "alternative," and the "shifting of the axis" completely fueled the suspicions. Taking the useless S-400s and losing the extremely important F-35s is the symbol of the whole process!” says Akyol.
Another Karar columnist, Akif Beki, who was once close to the government but is now an opponent, shared the view that Erdogan, who was once on the side of NATO on Ukraine, but has now changed his stance. According to Beki, the basis of this change of attitude is based on the view that Russia will win the energy war. Beki writes “I hope it's not too late to make a comeback but someone is misleading us. We engage in politics with miscalculations and misleading expectations.”
As reported by Bloomberg's research, the data do not support the criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin that "grain from Ukraine does not reach developing countries." According to the United Nations data, 400,000 tons of more than 2 million tons of grain products were delivered to Africa and more than 600,000 tons to Asia and the Middle East.
How does the Agreement work?
Ukraine, the Russian Federation, Turkey and the United Nations established a Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul on 27 July 2022 in Istanbul.
Teams from all three countries and the UN will jointly inspect the vessels in Turkish ports to ensure that they are not carrying weapons back to Ukraine after unloading their grain.
With the creation of the food corridor, Ukraine can start exports from the ports of Odesa, Pivdennyi, and Chornomorsk, which are entirely under its control.
According to the agreement, cargo ships loaded with food will reach the Black Sea from mined ports via pilot ships and be transported to world markets via predetermined routes.
As of 8 September 2022, 105 transport runs from Ukrainian ports have carried 2,376,291 metric tons of grain and other foodstuffs.