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Russian Grain Deal Will Prolong Ukraine War – OpEd

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The food we eat is laced with Ukrainian blood and it must be stopped. As the west agrees to a deal with Russia for the instant gratification of immediate food security, we are prolonging the war and endangering long term supply by propping up tyrannical rule.

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Ukrainian food exports will arrive through the world after a deal was struck between Erdogan and Putin in the living room of the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. After a five month long naval blockade the ships have been allowed to leave the Black Sea ports of Ukraine and continue through the Turkish controlled Bosphorus. One such shipment, carrying 50,000 tonnes of cooking oil is to arrive in India, another carrying grain will soon reach Lebanon. 

The deal struck by the Turkish President Erdogan with Putin has secured the position of both autocrats. Erdogan is recognized as the authority in the region, having the bargaining chip of NATO article 5, while pursuing his own agenda in Syria, against the Kurds. Erdogan is yet also to cancel orders of s-400 air defence systems from Russia. 

Putin, in turn, scored a huge win for the domestic propaganda market, the only market he takes an interest in. The top-level meeting put him on a platform with a major world leader, even if he was left standing. His minute long wait for Erdogan was a finely orchestrated move that distracted from the backroom deal on drones, food and power in the Middle East by allowing the media to focus on a lonely figure of Putin in a room.

Instead of a humiliating encounter we saw a low bow to the Russian maniacal tyrant, satisfying the immediate requirement for food exports while muffling the ramifications of such a deal. Putin gets to search all ships heading to Ukraine. This means any deliveries of weapons via the sea, one of the most effective means of delivery are now out of the question. Moreover, as well as conducting the searches in international waters, the ships are being stopped by the Russians in Ukrainian territorial waters too. This is set to prolong the war and play to Russia’s advantage.

The UN plays to the Russian tune, as body tasked with overseeing the food exports also includes a Russian delegation. This puts any and all sea shipments under the watchful eye of the Russian military.

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Putin also won a huge diplomatic victory among his friends, the terrorist supporting states. Doing the deal in Iran put the Islamic Republic square on the diplomatic map of shady dealings. Not that it wasn’t on it before. The deal was not reached in China, India or any other the other Asian states who are not actively participating in sanctions against Russia and could be seen as a neutral backdrop to such negotiations. Picking Iran legitimises yet another autocratic leadership that is doing all it can to damage the West.

Authoritarian kudos points were also scored by Iran and Russia in an accompanying deal that saw the transfer of Shahed 129 combat drones to Russia. All this comes mere months after it was already reported that Iran was sending anti-tank and surface to air missiles to Putin. It seems the cost of cooking oil was weighed against Ukrainian lives and the fry-up won. 

Russia was not going to give up its ambitious conquest and a backroom deal on weapons in exchange for food only plays to their advantage. The food crisis is the direct result of Russian aggression, both in terms of blockading Ukrainian export and in the frantic rush for supplies that ensued. 

The war created a global food crisis, as many commentators jumped to point out. It did not create a global response.

Despite being directly involved in the conflict by the virtue of supply chain disruption, African and Asian states that bare the brunt of the food shortage maintain criminal neutrality in the war in Ukraine. 

There needs to be a global response from those suffering from the hand of Putin. Diplomatic missions need to be expelled, Russian mercenaries have to be sent packing and Russian business interests must be made to dance to the western tune. Deals that address immediate concerns at the cost of long-term stability will harm us and will ensure a volatile, unsafe world for our children.

Backroom deals that trade food for lives are below the moral plateau of a democratic society. For this very reason Iran was chosen as the backdrop for the agreement with Russia. However, the cost of doing business today is legitimacy and weapons for Putin, legitimacy for Iran, an ever-stronger Erdogan and Ukrainian lives. The cost tomorrow may be the welfare and lives of our children. The aspects of the deal must be made public and a truly global diplomatic offensive against Russia must commence.

One thought on “Russian Grain Deal Will Prolong Ukraine War – OpEd

  • August 1, 2022 at 8:24 pm
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    Whoever wrote this disregards the fact that BOTH Ukraine and Russia agreed on this deal, it will bring revenue to Ukraine as well as helping avoid a large number of people dying, as well as completely ignoring the fact that whilst seabourne freight might be a good way of delivering weaponry, there was no such seaborne freight previously, and weaponry is getting into Ukraine via a 500 mile long border with the eu.

    I despair when I see such shallow thought as above published.

    Reply

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