Putin Criticizes Implementation of Ukrainian Grain Export Deal
Russia has launched its harshest criticisms yet against the UN-brokered deal overseen by Turkey for the export of grain from Ukraine. A month after the exports resumed under the three-month agreement, Russia began what appears to be a coordinated effort to criticize the program. Russian President Vladimir Putin said they will call for changes while citing a lack of reciprocity for Russian exports.
While Russia has permitted the exports to flow freely since the first vessels departed on August 3, they have spoken against the implementation of the effort, despite the UN and Turkey saying it was proceeding as planned. The agreement established a humanitarian corridor from three Ukrainian ports across the Black Sea to Turkey where outgoing and incoming vessels are inspected.
Putin lashed out against the program saying that Russia was being cheated by the implementation of the agreement according to a report carried by Reuters. The report on the wire quotes Putin as saying, "What we see is a brazen deception ... a deception by the international community of our partners in Africa, and other countries that are in dire need of food. It's just a scam.”
Putin asserted that the agreement was for the gains to be sent to the poorest countries and those facing famine. Instead, he says most of the grain is going into the developed world, and specifically he asserts to EU countries. Reuters quotes Putin as saying that “only two of 87 ships, carrying 60,000 tonnes of products, went to poor countries.”
The criticism of the program comes just one month after vessels began to depart Ukraine for the first time since February. As of September 6, the Joint Coordination Center based in Turkey reports that the total tonnage of grain and other foodstuffs exported from the three Ukrainian ports topped 2.2 million metric tons. A total of 204 voyages have been enabled so far consisting of 108 inbound and 96 outbound. On a daily basis, they are inspecting five or more ships heading in each direction.
As part of the program, the center posts a daily listing and running total on the voyages. By their account, the largest portion of the exports is 1.5 million metric tons of corn followed by more than 500,000 tons of wheat. A range of other commodities, including sunflower oil, seeds and meal, barley, soybeans, and rapeseed, have also been exported.
The data posted on the website shows the largest amounts had a declared destination of Turkey while other amounts have gone to Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and South Korea. However, far more than two ships have gone into the developing world. Declared destinations range from Djibouti to Egypt, India, Iran, Kenya, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.
Putin’s criticism of the initiative came a day after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said that the deal was not honoring the provisions to reduce sanctions on Russian food and fertilizer exports. Lavrov, according to a report from Reuters, said he was contacting the UN calling for the promised relaxing of western sanctions on Russian exports.
While promising to continue forward with the deal at this time, Putin said he would also be speaking with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan calling for restrictions on which countries can receive shipments from Ukraine and efforts to make possible the export of Russian fertilizer.