Wheat, Turkey’s proposal: what it says, the reactions of Russia and Ukraine

from Claudio Del Frate

Ankara offers to clear the Black Sea and escort convoys with cereals. Moscow wants sanctions to be lifted, Kiev fears that the Russians will take the opportunity to attack the ports

The wheat issue and the unblocking of the Black Sea ports are once again the first step in starting one “De-escalation” of the conflict. The subject of the discussion is the proposal made by Turkey, also driven by the food crisis which risks affecting many African and Asian countries heavily dependent on the supply of cereals stopped in Ukrainian ports. According to more recent estimates, the amount of still food amounts to 22 million tons. But what are the positions that are emerging? Here they are in summary

* Turkey’s proposal – Erdogan’s government has offered to act as guarantor between the parties: it will be the ships of the Ankara navy to clearing the corridors through which to pass the ships with the grain loads and would always be the Turkish ships to escorting the convoys. Doubts about the time needed to launch these corridors: according to Turkey it is mine clearance will take 5 weeksaccording to Ukraine up to but 6 months.

* What Russia says – Moscow initially met with I favor Erdogan’s proposal and he has guaranteed that he will let the ships pass with the grain necessary to avert the food crisis. Everything easy? It does not seem: as already happened the Russian position is very fluctuating and in the afternoon Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov has once again called for an easing of sanctions in exchange for the yes to the Turkish proposal.

* What Ukraine says – Zelensky and his ministers stay a long time skeptics. First of all, they fear that once the Black Sea has been “reclaimed”, Russia he will take advantage of this to attack Ukraine from the sea. They also accuse the Russians of stealing the grain stored in the warehouses of the bring Ukrainians who have fallen into their hands (for example in Mariupol) Kiev also resists the idea of unveil the mine map placed in the waters in front of its coasts. Finally, remember that the trade in cereals is not part of the sanctions package and therefore it should not be a “bargaining chip” with Moscow.

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