The Black Sea Grain Deal: Lifeline For Global Food Security And Beacon Of Hope In Troubled World – OpEd


The Black Sea grain deal was a UN-brokered agreement that allowed Ukraine to export grain via the Black Sea despite a wartime blockade by Russia.

The deal was signed in July 2022 by Russia, Ukraine, Türkiye and the UN, and expired on July 17, 2023 after Russia refused to extend it. The deal was a lifeline for global food security and a beacon of hope in a troubled world, as it facilitated the export of more than 32 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain to 45 different countries in the past year, including 725,000 tons to support humanitarian operations in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and Yemen. Nearly half of the food exports from Ukraine went to developing nations.

The deal also involved some conditions and compromises from both sides, such as security guarantees for ships sailing around Ukrainian ports, inspections on all vessels by Turkish, Russian, Ukrainian and UN officials and facilitation of Russian exports of grain and fertilizer via the Black Sea.

However, the deal also faced many challenges and uncertainties, as it did not address the underlying causes of the conflict such as Russia’s invasion and occupation of parts of Ukraine’s territory. Russia withdrew from the deal because it was dissatisfied with the obstacles it faced in exporting its own agricultural goods and fertilizers to world markets due to sanctions imposed by the West. Russia also demanded the reconnection of the Russian Agricultural Bank to the SWIFT banking payment system, and the expansion of its ammonia exports via a pipeline that runs through Ukraine.

By withdrawing from the deal, Russia also withdrew security guarantees for ships sailing around Ukrainian ports which could escalate the military conflict in the region and endanger civilian lives. Russia also warned that ships travelling to Ukraine’s Black Sea ports will be considered potential military targets, and that it will deem all ships travelling to Ukraine to be potentially carrying military cargo on behalf of Kyiv. Russia also declared parts of the Black Sea’s international waters to be temporarily unsafe for navigation and launched attacks on Ukrainian port cities such as Odesa and Mykolaiv, killing and injuring civilians and destroying agricultural infrastructure and grain stocks.

The repercussions of Russia’s withdrawal could be devastating for millions of people who depend on Ukrainian grain for their food and livelihoods. The UN warned that some will starve and many may die as a result of rising food prices and shortages. The World Bank also estimated that global poverty could increase by 10% due to the disruption of food supply chains. Moreover, the withdrawal could undermine trust and cooperation among regional and global actors and increase the risk of further violence and instability in Eastern Europe.

There is some hope for a new deal between Russia and Ukraine on grain exports, but it is not certain or easy. It would require sustained diplomatic efforts, mutual concessions and respect for international law. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he deeply regrets Russia’s decision and called it a blow to people in need everywhere. He said the deal was a lifeline for global food security and a beacon of hope in a troubled world. He also said he had written to President Vladimir Putin with a new proposal to keep the deal alive, outlining the UN’s efforts to facilitate trade amid sanctions. However, there is no guarantee that Russia will accept the proposal or resume its participation in the deal.

Turkey has played a significant role in the Black Sea grain deal, both as a mediator and a facilitator. Turkey helped to broker the deal between Russia and Ukraine along with the UN in July 2022. As part of its role in the pact, Turkey carries out inspections on all the merchant vessels that pass through the Black Sea in specially established safe corridors.

The inspections are meant to ensure that the ships are empty of cargo on their way to Ukraine, and that they are not carrying weapons or other prohibited items. Another key creation of the deal is the Joint Coordination Center (JCC), which was set up in Istanbul under the auspices of the UN. The JCC comprises senior representatives from Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the UN, and is responsible for monitoring and regulating the maritime humanitarian corridor as well as resolving any issues or disputes that may arise.

Turkey also provides logistical and technical support for the implementation of the deal such as providing tugboats, pilots and port services for the vessels participating in the initiative. Turkey also hosts regular meetings and consultations among the parties involved to review the progress and challenges of the deal.

The Black Sea grain deal was a remarkable achievement of crisis management and multilateralism in action. It showed that even in the midst of war, cooperation and compromise are possible for the common good of humanity. It also showed that food security is a global challenge that requires global solutions and solidarity. The deal saved millions of lives and prevented a humanitarian catastrophe. It also created a platform for dialogue and trust-building among the parties involved.

However, the deal also exposed the fragility and complexity of the situation in the region. It did not resolve the root causes of the conflict, nor did it guarantee a lasting peace and stability. It depended on the goodwill and cooperation of all parties involved, which could be easily eroded by mistrust or violence. It also faced many difficulties and uncertainties, as it was subjected to constant negotiations and renewals. It was ultimately terminated by Russia’s withdrawal, which triggered a new wave of hostility and aggression.

The end of the deal could have serious consequences for Ukraine, Russia and the rest of the world. It could disrupt the flow of Ukrainian grain to global markets especially to countries that depend on it for their food security. The Ukraine’s economy and sovereignty may be effected as grain exports are a major source of income and foreign currency for the country. It could also worsen the political and military situation in the region, as Russia withdrew security guarantees for ships sailing around Ukrainian ports, which could escalate the conflict and endanger civilian lives. The trust and cooperation among regional and global actors may be undermined and increase the risk of further violence and instability in Eastern Europe.

In conclusion, a war could break out in the Black Sea due to tensions between Ukraine and Russia as both sides have shown their willingness to use force and escalate the conflict. The situation is volatile and dangerous not only for the regional stability and security, but also for the world’s food security and peace. The international community should urgently intervene to prevent further escalation and find a diplomatic solution to end the war.

Altaf Moti

Altaf Moti writes on diverse topics such as politics, economics, and society.

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