Turkey Russia Ukraine Grain

Cargo ships anchored in the Marmara Sea await to cross the Bosphorus Straits in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022. Turkey’s defense minister urged Russia to “reconsider” its decision to suspend the implementation of the U.N. and Turkish-brokered grain deal in a telephone call Monday with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu. Khalil Hamra/Associated Press

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that he had secured Moscow’s commitment to resurrect a deal safeguarding Ukrainian grain shipments, which has been crucial to sustaining food supplies to developing nations amid the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.

The deal, known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, was brokered by Turkey and the United Nations in July to guarantee the safe passage of cargo ships to and from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports after Russia’s invasion disrupted export operations, setting off widespread worries about global food security.

“Here now is a new piece of good news,” Erdogan said Wednesday during a speech to lawmakers in Ankara. “The grain shipment will continue as it was previously planned.”

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the resurrection of the deal on Wednesday, saying that the United Nations and Turkey had helped obtain Kyiv’s “written guarantees” not to use the grain corridor for military action against Russia.

“The Russian Federation believes that the guarantees received for the time being seem sufficient and resumes the implementation of the agreement,” the statement said. The statement referred to the bombing of ships in Sevastopol as a “terrorist attack.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin also confirmed the reversal Wednesday, saying the Russian Defense Ministry had been instructed to resume participation in the grain deal.


“Russia reserves the right to withdraw from this agreement if the guarantees made by Ukraine are violated. But in any case, even in the case of such a withdrawal, Russia is ready to transfer all Ukrainian grain to the poorest countries free of charge,” he told government ministers on a conference call.

Moscow said over the weekend it was abandoning the grain deal following an attack on its Black Sea naval fleet in Crimea, for which it blamed Ukraine.

Russia said Saturday that it had halted its participation in the deal for an “indefinite term” as it could not “guarantee the safety of civilian ships.” Kyiv had not taken responsibility for the attack on Russian naval vessels.

Amir Abdulla, the U.N. coordinator of the deal, wrote on Twitter that he welcomed Russia’s return to the initiative and thanked Turkey for its mediation.

“Looking forward to working with all parties,” Abdulla wrote.

During Wednesday’s speech, Erdogan appeared to also confirm that a recent Russian proposal to turn Turkey into a natural gas hub for Europe was well underway.


“Now, Turkey is a hub for natural gas and energy,” the Turkish president said. “Therefore, there will also be the exportation of energy from us.”

This followed comments from Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday saying that Turkish and Russian ministries were cooperating on the natural gas issue at a technical level.

European nations that long relied on Russian natural gas supplies have largely halted their purchases in response to the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, and Putin had urgently sought Turkey’s help in sustaining some transmission of gas to customers in the West.

During a meeting in Kazakhstan in mid-October, Erdogan and Putin said that they had instructed their respective energy authorities to immediately begin the technical work on establishing the hub.

Turkey is a NATO member that depends heavily on Russia for its energy needs and tourism.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Turkey has criticized Moscow but refrained from joining Western sanctions against Russia, and Erdogan has frequently sought to play a role as mediator.


Turkey has maintained close links between both countries, notably supplying Ukraine with the Bayraktar TB2 drones famously deployed against Russian forces from the start of the war.

In addition to helping broker the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Turkey helped negotiate swaps of captured soldiers.

While Erdogan announced the resumption of the grain accord, the British government on Wednesday said that it had imposed sanctions on four more Russian oligarchs – all steel and petrochemical tycoons determined to be supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Among those newly under sanctions were Alexander Abramov and Alexander Frolov, who previously owned stakes in Russian steel manufacturer Evraz and control global fortunes estimated at $4.7 billion and $1.9 million respectively, as well as property in the U.K. worth an estimated $115 million.

U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, in a government statement, noted Putin’s continued reliance on “his cabal of selected elite” to maintain control of his industrial complex and fuel the war in Ukraine.

“By targeting these individuals, we are ramping up the economic pressure on Putin and will continue to do so until Ukraine prevails,” Cleverly said.


With the four additions on Wednesday, the U.K. has imposed sanctions on more than 1,200 individuals and 120 entities, including more than 120 oligarchs with a net worth of more than $160 billion, according to the statement.

In Ukraine, Russian occupation officials in the southern Kherson region said they had relocated some 70,000 residents of the regional capital city to the east bank of the Dnieper River in anticipation of further Ukrainian military advances and a potential offensive to retake Kherson city, which Russia seized shortly after its Feb. 24 invasion.


The Washington Post’s Kareem Fahim in Washington and Natalia Abbakumova in Riga, Latvia contributed to this report.

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