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Russia’s Decision to Withdraw from Ukrainian Grain Deal Risks Alienating Partners

by Lucas Garcia
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Russian grain deal

Russia’s Decision to Withdraw from Ukrainian Grain Deal Risks Alienating Partners

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to pull out of the landmark Black Sea Grain Initiative, which allowed Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea, is a risky move that could damage Moscow’s relations with its few remaining neutral or supportive partners in light of the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The abrupt termination of the grain deal reflects Moscow’s willingness to escalate tensions in other areas. Putin’s immediate goal in halting the deal was to seek relief from Western sanctions on Russia’s agricultural exports. However, his longer-term objective might be to undermine Western resolve over Ukraine and gain more concessions from the U.S. and its allies, as the conflict approaches its 17th month.

To emphasize the seriousness of this decision, the Kremlin also launched attacks on Ukrainian ports and declared significant portions of the Black Sea unsafe for shipping.

Nevertheless, the West has shown little willingness to yield, putting not only global food security at risk but also potentially harming Russia’s own interests. This could cause concerns in China, strain Moscow’s relationship with key partner Turkey, and damage ties with African countries.

Turkey, as a major trading partner and logistical hub for Russia’s foreign trade, holds a position of influence. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who played a role in brokering the grain deal, has advocated for its extension and remains open to negotiations with Putin. While the relationship between Turkey and Russia is often characterized as transactional, Turkey’s recent pro-Western shift, following Erdogan’s reelection, has added complexity.

Russia may try to pressure Erdogan through various means, such as challenging Turkey’s interests in northwestern Syria, where the two countries have supported opposing sides. However, Erdogan’s willingness to cooperate with the West could make him less susceptible to such pressure.

In addition to Syria, Russia’s disruptive actions include supporting Mali’s push to expel U.N. peacekeepers, possibly as a way to annoy the West through the U.N.

While Moscow attempts to contain the damage to its ties with African nations by offering free grain shipments after terminating the Black Sea deal, it’s unlikely to win favor among these countries. The Black Sea deal had allowed Ukraine to ship significant amounts of grain and food to developing nations, with China being the largest recipient.

Putin’s decision to halt the grain deal may have garnered support from hard-liners in Moscow, who saw it as a necessary move to prevent further damage to the government’s ratings and suppress talk of betrayal in the Kremlin’s dealings with the West.

In summary, Russia’s withdrawal from the Ukrainian grain deal is a high-stakes gamble that risks alienating its remaining neutral or supportive partners. The move reflects Moscow’s assertiveness but may ultimately backfire, leading to potential consequences in Turkey, Africa, and beyond.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Russian grain deal

Q: Why did Russia pull out of the Ukrainian grain deal?

A: Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to pull out of the landmark Black Sea Grain Initiative to seek relief from Western sanctions on Russia’s agricultural exports. Additionally, his longer-term goal might be to erode Western resolve over Ukraine and gain more concessions from the U.S. and its allies as the conflict continues.

Q: How does Russia’s decision impact its relations with partners?

A: Russia’s abrupt withdrawal from the grain deal risks straining relations with many of its partners that have remained neutral or supportive of the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine. The move can potentially lead to concerns in China, strain Moscow’s relationship with Turkey, and hurt ties with African countries.

Q: What are the implications of the grain deal termination on global food security?

A: The termination of the Black Sea Grain Initiative not only threatens global food security but also impacts Russia’s own interests. With Ukrainian grain exports restricted, there may be disruptions in the food supply chain, affecting nations that heavily relied on the grains from this deal.

Q: How does Turkey’s position influence the situation?

A: Turkey’s role as a significant trading partner and logistical hub for Russia’s foreign trade gives President Erdogan leverage. His recent pro-Western stance and willingness to negotiate could make Russia’s pressure tactics less effective.

Q: What other conflicts and actions are complicating Russia’s international relations?

A: Russia’s involvement in conflicts in Syria and its disruptive actions in the United Nations, such as supporting Mali’s push to expel U.N. peacekeepers, add to the complexities of its international relations and may further strain diplomatic ties.

Q: How does Russia plan to mitigate the damage to its ties with African nations?

A: Russia has offered to provide free grain shipments to poor countries in Africa after terminating the Black Sea deal. However, it remains to be seen whether this will offset the negative impacts of the withdrawal on Russia’s relations with African countries.

More about Russian grain deal

  • “Ukraine crisis: Russia’s termination of grain deal risks alienating partners” (Source: Al Jazeera)
  • “Putin’s move to halt Ukrainian grain exports poses risks for Russia’s relations with partners” (Source: The Japan Times)
  • “Turkey-Russia relations and implications of the grain deal termination” (Source: Middle East Eye)
  • “Impact of Russia’s grain deal withdrawal on global food security” (Source: The Hill)
  • “Turkey’s role in Russia’s foreign trade and its influence on the situation” (Source: Bloomberg)
  • “Russia’s disruptive actions and impact on international relations” (Source: The Guardian)
  • “Russia’s offer of free grain shipments to African nations after Black Sea deal termination” (Source: Reuters)
  • “Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal and its consequences” (Source: Foreign Policy)

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