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Russia’s back to the grain deal. So fast!

#StandWithUkraine
November 3,2022 504
Russia’s back to the grain deal. So fast!

After Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations in fact ignored Kremlin’s threats and set, on Oct. 31, a new wartime record for the daily amount of grain leaving Ukrainian ports, Russia hurried back to rejoin the Black Sea Grain Initiative – just four days after withdrawing.

One can only guess why the Kremlin changed its mind so quickly. Officially, the Russian defense ministry says Kyiv provided it with written guarantees not to use the Black Sea grain corridor for military operations against Russia.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky looks at Russia’s return from another angle, calling it a “significant diplomatic outcome” for Ukraine and the whole world. “Russian blackmail has led nowhere. The U.N. and Secretary General Guterres personally responded in a principled and effective way. The President of Türkiye, Erdoğan, also participated. Other key international actors also made timely and fair steps,” he said in his late-night address yesterday.

On Oct. 29, Moscow announced that Russia suspends its participation in the deal to export agricultural produce from Ukrainian ports after Ukrainian forces successfully hit some two or three warships of the Russian Black Sea fleet in occupied Sevastopol (although Kyiv has not officially confirmed its involvement in the attack). Moreover, Moscow warned that shipments under the deal without its consent would be “more risky” and “dangerous.”

The next day, the United Nations, Turkey and Ukraine decided to go on with the deal and agreed on an Oct. 31 movement plan, which turned our record-setting.

And now, Russia is back to the deal. Was it a face-saving attempt? This fact gives rise to a question: If Kyiv gives Moscow written guarantees not to use Ukrainian power generation and distribution facilities for military operations against Russia, will it be enough for Moscow to stop the barbaric shelling of the Ukrainian civilian energy infrastructure?

Photo: “Commercial vessels that are part of the Black Sea grain deal waiting to pass through the Bosporus in Turkey on Monday.” Umit Bektas/Reuters via NYT

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