On August 7, an explosion occurred in the port of Kocaeli in Türkiye at grain silos, right after the unloading of grain from a cargo arriving from the Russian port of Novorossiysk. Dr Eray Güçlüer says its too early to speak of sabotage, but observes some suspicious moments in the explosion.
At the same time, international diplomacy around the Grain Corridor Agreement is continuing, and the Turkish President Erdoğan has announced – three days before the explosion – his government’s readiness to work bilaterally with Moscow to continue grain transport from Russia to Africa, after being processed in Türkiye.
Erdoğan also announced a visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Türkiye to happen in the month of August.
We spoke about these issues with Dr. Eray Güçlüer, Academic at the Altınbaş University in Istanbul whose second area of expertise is criminology.
You have some doubts that this explosion was not caused by a technical reasons. Can you explain what causes your doubts?
There are some remarkable aspects that need to be investigated in the explosion that took place in Derince. However, first of all, it is too early to say right away that this explosion occurred due to sabotage. It is possible to make a judgment according to the results after the ongoing investigation.
Still, there are some indications that this might not have been an explosion caused by technical failure.
First of all, we see that there are two types of smoke during the explosion. The first is white smoke, and the second is dark black smoke, which we see coming out with the flames, that is, close to the flames.
That means we have two different types of material burning. After all, what we call an explosion is a fire. It is the state of burning very quickly. Therefore, the white smoke that emerges in the normal environment, that is, in the outer environment, is likely to be the result of the burning of the material outside. But that dark black smoke that comes out with the flames shows us that there is also a chemical substance burning. To put it more precisely, a chemical compound is also involved in the explosion. I can state that, because my second branch is criminology.
It needs to be examined whether this dark smoke is caused by some chemical material that might have caused the explosion or accelerated it. This will be determined with the swaps to be taken from the scene of the explosion.
But the existence of such a compound ot necessarily indicates a sabotage, as it might have escaped accidentally while the ship was unloaded.
Secondly, there are actually two points of explosion, separated from each other. So how probable is it that gas pressure causes two different explosions simultaneously?
If these two explosion points were located side by side, you could argue that the first triggered the second, but they are pretty separated. This causes suspicion and should also be investigated.
Finally, explosions that can occur with a normal dust and gas compression are usually local. So they only affect one silo or maybe the second silo. But here, a total of 13 silos were damaged. That is, in order for these 13 silos to be affected, that gas compression or dust compression must have been strengthened.
Now, as I said, it’s too early to say it’s necessarily sabotage. I’m sure that these questions will be clarified with the result of the criminal investigation.
If this is not an accident but something else, of course, then the political messages behind it should also be considered. In other words, Türkiye is about to take a very important initiative, as a third party, in the grain corridor agreement, to transport this grain through Türkiye and deliver it not only to the rich European countries, but also to countries in the Middle East and Africa that need it.
If we take some context, now it is expected that Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Türkiye in August.
Well, of course, the West most likely will not welcome this visit. Likewise, the Turkish-Russian Grain Corridor initiative started by the President of Türkiye was also not received very well there.
What can await Türkiye in general here? What has Türkiye to be prepared for?
Although everyone seems to want a grain corridor agreement, it is clear that America and the West, that is the, European countries, do not truly want it. Because they have already stored enough grain, and they can buy grain from Ukraine and from other countries if necessary, transported by land.
The reason why they appear to be a party to the agreement without truly supporting it is, that they want to squeeze Russia economically.
Their goal is to achieve that Russia’s 50 million tons of grain go to waste. Of course, Ukraine has expanded the war to the Black Sea now. Russian ports, the Kerch Bridge and civilian tankers are being attacked. This means that the front line of the conflict is widening.
Türkiye has produced an important solution for both Ukraine and Russia, of which Türkiye for sure will also benefit and earn income.
At the same time,this grain agreement increases Türkiye’s political power in the region and in fact in wider geography reaching to as far as Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans and the Caucasus. So this agreement will make Türkiye even stronger.
But the West does not want Türkiye to grow and develop. Therefore, we should be prepared against certain provocations, as they did before.
The Black Sea has a surface area of four hundred thirty-six thousand square kilometers, about half of this is the Turkish continental shelf. Therefore, Türkiye should always be careful against provocations that may bring Ankara and Moscow into confrontation.
we still remember their earlier provocations such as the assassination of the Russian ambassador in Türkiye, the shooting down of the Russian plane, the incident of placing a mine in the Bosporus, the shooting of a Turkish ship on its way to a Romanian port and provoking Greece against Türkiye.
Is there a certain scenario you would like to warn of?
What comes to mind is the possibility of attacking a Russian ship within the Turkish continental shelf. This is always possible.
Let me first state that Türkiye has sufficent power to ensure security in the Black Sea. Türkiye produces especially the Ulak, Tama and Çaka class surface and submarine unmanned vehicles. And is very successful in this regard. Our navy and military power is quite strong and sufficient.
Therefore, we are heading towards an environment where more careful monitoring, especially monitoring and surveillance, is required, and additional measures are taken if necessary. The situation is getting delicate.
Western pressure on Türkiye and the Black Sea may increase, because by implementing the Montreux Agreement, Türkiye already prevents NATO forces consisting of USA and Western ships from entering the Black Sea. This, of course, prevents the spread of conflict. At the same time, it also prevents Russia from being surrounded strategically from the south.
Therefore, Türkiye already provides strategic security to Russia and also ensures the security of the Black Sea. In order for the situation not to become more critical, Türkiye must be very careful, and Russia must also be more careful.