Istanbul, ships waiting to enter the Bosphorus Strait

Russia agrees to resume grain export after mediation by Turkey

Turkish President Erdoğan confirmed today that Russia will resume the agreement with Ukraine to export grain through the Black Sea.

Thanks to the mediation of Turkey, Russia announced today that it is resuming the agreement signed last July in Istanbul that allowed the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea ports, just four days after the Kremlin announced its withdrawal from the pact, unleashing deep concern about the risks to food security, especially in the poorest countries.

It was Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan himself who announced the turn taken by Moscow after a telephone conversation he had on Tuesday with his counterpart Vladimir Putin, and after a series of consultations between the defence ministers of both countries. Erdoğan explained that, after his call to Putin, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu informed his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar that the agreement to export grain “will continue in the same way as before” from noon today.

The Turkish president noted that grain shipments will prioritize countries in Africa, including Somalia, Djibouti and Sudan, in line with concerns expressed by Russia that most of the grain has been shipped to richest countries. Shortly after Erdoğan’s statement, the Russian Defence Ministry confirmed that the deal would go ahead after Moscow received written assurances through Turkey that Kyiv would not use the sea corridor to carry out military action against Russia.

As reported by the Kremlin, Ukraine – after the mediation of Turkey and also the United Nations – would have formally committed to using the safe passages for Black Sea ships “exclusively according to the stipulations of the Black Sea initiative”, referring to the agreements signed on July 22, 2022.

Millions of people at risk of famine

“The Russian Federation considers that the guarantees received at this time seem sufficient, and resumes the implementation of the agreement,” said a statement issued by the Russian Defence Ministry, which announced at the weekend that it was breaking the pact after accusing Ukraine of using kamikaze drones to attack its Black Sea fleet.

More than 9 million tons of corn, wheat, sunflower derivatives, barley, rapeseed and soybeans have been exported since the agreement entered into force in July, just at a time when the United Nations warned that some 47 million people had become in a situation of acute hunger.

After Russia announced the resumption of grain exports, the Ukrainian authorities expressed today their gratitude for the important mediation carried out by Turkey; anonymous sources from the Kyiv government assured that the decision made by Moscow would have been possible mainly due to pressure exerted by Ankara.