La Jornada – Risk of conflict between Russia and Turkey over the grain pact

Moscow. A complex and increasingly dangerous situation in itself has emerged since Russia suspended its participation in the “grain pact” in response to what it calls a Ukrainian attack on its naval base in Sevastopol, Crimea, last Saturday, while Turkey and The United Nations (UN) continued to approve the departure of grain cargo ships from Ukrainian ports this Monday.

During the day, the parties involved gave contradictory information that does not allow us to know exactly what is happening, but the risk that the ambiguity will cause a direct conflict between Russia and Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), is very high. , to the extent that the defense ministers of both countries, Russia’s Serguei Shoigu and Turkey’s Hulusi Akar, spoke on the phone again for the second day in a row.

President Vladimir Putin from Sochi on Monday evening defined what Russia wants at this moment: “We are not saying that we are canceling our participation in this operation (grain pact). We say we will stop it. The UN (not to mention Turkey) is very actively working on this and we appreciate it. That’s why they should talk to Ukraine and make it commit that there will be no more threats to civilian ships and supply ships of the Russian Federation.”

A few hours earlier, through the Anadolu agency of the Turkish government, news arrived from Istanbul that on the morning of October 31, six ships with grain sailed from Ukrainian ports to the Netherlands, Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt and Turkey.

The joint coordination center – with representatives of Turkey, Ukraine and the UN, without those from Russia – also approved for this Monday 14 more routes and schedules, 10 departures of cargo ships and 4 empty ones going to Ukrainian ports with grain. They sent the notification in question to Moscow, but without asking its opinion.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom the Turkish official press calls “the great architect of the grain pact”, used the situation to add credit and emphasized: “With joint efforts, we managed to alleviate the food crisis in the world. And at this moment when Russia is acting indecisively, because the pact did not bring her the same benefits, we will continue to make determined efforts in the interests of all humanity.”

The Kremlin spokesman, Dimitri Peskov, replied to the Turkish president, without mentioning him: “When Russia mentions that it is impossible to guarantee the safety of navigation in these areas, a pact like the one for grains is not feasible and takes on a much more risky character. , dangerous and without guarantees”. He certainly did not say that Russia is ready to sink every cargo ship sailing in the Black Sea without its approval.

Moscow continued to make moves through its permanent representative to the UN, Vasiliy Nebenzija, who stated in New York that “the attack on the Sevastopol naval base ended the humanitarian dimension of the Black Sea food initiative.”

The diplomat warned: “Considering that the humanitarian corridor has been used for military purposes and that the Black Sea is a combat zone, we cannot allow the ships to sail freely without our inspection and we will be forced to take our own measures to audit and control the freighters that are the coordination center authorized without our approval.”

Nebenzja expected that “Russia will soon announce its conclusions and approaches regarding the grain pact.”

And the Russian Ministry of Defense later, before Putin’s opinion became known, issued a statement repeating Moscow’s initial position: “Until the situation regarding the terrorist act committed by Ukraine on October 29 against warships and civilians is clarified infrastructure of Sevastopol, navigation is suspended through the security corridor” (Black Sea Initiatives).

At the same time, the military unit does not say how it will prevent such navigation and limits itself to pointing out that “in the current conditions, the safety of any ship cannot be guaranteed until the Ukrainian side agrees not to use that route for the military”, by which Kyiv implies that Kyiv would have to acknowledge the authorship of the drone attack attributed to him by Moscow.

In the context of this tension between Russia on the one hand and Turkey and the UN on the other, ten Ukrainian cities were bombed with fifty cruise missiles, which additionally affected the country’s energy infrastructure and other civilian facilities.

In Kyiv, according to the mayor of the capital, Vitali Klitschko, “350,000 apartments were left without electricity and 80 percent of the population without running water” due to the bombing of the power plant. Around 8 pm local time, “270,000 apartments are still without electricity, and 40 percent without water.”

Ukraine’s military claims to have shot down 40 Russian cruise missiles, which, if true – as impossible to verify as any information about the military successes of either side – would give an idea of ​​the scale of the missile and drone attacks, when the prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, admitted that at least 18 energy facilities were damaged.

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