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07/24/2023

On the future of the grain corridor and Turkish-Russian relations

On the future of the grain corridor and Turkish-Russian relations

Russia did not approve the prolongation of the Black Sea Grain Agreement. United World International author Mehmet Perinçek provided an interview on the reasons for that, how the agreement can be saved and which stance Türkiye should take to the Turkish daily newspaper Aydınlık.

Below we present the translation of the interview.


Why did Russia not renew the grain agreement?

There are mainly three reasons for this.

Three reasons for Russia

The first reason is related to the implementation of the agreement. The agreement had been made to address the global food crisis and aimed to deliver grain to poor and countries in need. However, in practice, it turned out that only 3% of the grain reached Africa and other countries in need also benefited very little from the agreement with most of it being transported to Europe and a significant portion used as animal feed. Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan started to raise concerns about this shortly after the agreement was put into effect. Unfortunately, this remained unsolved.

Secondly, Moscow stated that other parties were exploiting the agreement, and the corridor to the Black Sea, intended for grain transportation, was secretly used to send weapons to Ukraine. It was therefore clear to Moscow that the agreement was being used for something other than its original objective.

Thirdly, the West had announced that it would lift certain sanctions on Russia with the implementation of the agreement, but did not.

Türkiyes impact

Despite all of these and partly for the sake of maintaining good relations with Türkiye, Russia kept the agreement going. However in recent times, with Türkiye’s policies contributing to encirclement of Russia, increasing NATO’s influence in the region and supporting NATO’s expansion, this has undermined Russia’s goodwill towards Ankara.

Another significant factor was Türkiye’s return of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion commanders to Ukraine, which was against the agreement with Russia.

The grain agreement and Africa

Russia stated that it would return to the agreement if the conditions were fulfilled. Some European leaders said the agreement should be kept. On what conditions can it be maintained?

Russia would return to the agreement if the three conditions I just mentioned were met.

Putin frequently holds talks with African leaders about the transportation of grain to Africa. This issue was also on the agenda during his recent telephone conversation with the South African president. We see that Africa-Russia relations are developing and gaining strategic dimensions. Russia will insist on this point.

It is of particular importance for Türkiye to refrain from the steps to move closer to the West and NATO and distancing itself from Eurasia.

Europe’s attitude on the grain agreement

Regarding the European aspect of the issue, European companies that are making significant profits conduct the sale of Ukrainian grain in the global market. Even, it would be accurate to say that Kyiv has no say here. Europe is clearly exploiting this agreement to serve its own interests. Europe was not only making significant profit, but also arming Ukraine by exploiting the agreement. It is not surprising that they want the agreement to continue.

The grain agreement is, in its basis, needed and beneficial. But only if its implementation is consistent with it’s content and purpose.

The possible dimensions of Türkiye-Russia cooperation

Erdoğan said that he believes that Putin will keep the grain agreement. What would you say about it?

The strategic cooperation between Türkiye and Russia benefits not only the two countries, but also the entire region and even the entire world. The grain corridor agreement is a good example of this fact.

If Türkiye changes its recent attitudes and somehow convinces the West to stop exploiting the agreement, it can continue.

Türkiye’s recent policies will not only affect the Black Sea and Ukraine, but also the South Caucasus, Syria, Türkiye’s energy security, and Turkish-Russian economic relations.

Türkiye is endangering its vital interests

Türkiye can only tackle the threats it faces through cooperation with Eurasian countries. Cooperation with Russia holds significant importance in various issues such as eliminating the PKK/YPG terrorist organization in Syria, balancing the anti-Türkiye bloc formed by the US in the Eastern Mediterranean, securing the recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as an independent state on the international stage, ensuring Türkiye’s security in the Aegean and Thrace regions, securing Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity in the South Caucasus and initiating a harmonious process of integration.

Türkiye’s stance on Ukraine and NATO is endangering its vital interests in all these matters and deprives the country of international alliances, which help it counter-balance the threats. The US wants to leave Türkiye isolated. The Turkish government cannot gain the approval of the West by making up to it. The Western camp will not want to include Türkiye.

Mehmet Perinçek
Historian and political scientist (Turkey)

2 responses to “On the future of the grain corridor and Turkish-Russian relations”

  1. Anoosh says:

    By “securing Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity in the South Caucasus and initiating a harmonious process of integration”, are you advocating joining the Iranian Azarbaijan to the Azerbaijan republic? And if so, how would you achieve that goal?

  2. Mehmet Perinçek says:

    Thank you for your question. What is at issue here is the regions in Karabakh that are still under occupation. Iranian Azerbaijan is part of Iran’s territorial integrity.

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