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Russia flip-flops, rejoins Black Sea grain deal after Erdogan-Putin chat

Russia flip-flops, rejoins Black Sea grain deal after Erdogan-Putin chat

Russia flip-flops, rejoins Black Sea grain deal after Erdogan-Putin chat
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By Anand Singha  Nov 2, 2022 7:36:16 PM IST (Published)

Moscow's rapid reversal of its Black Sea grain policy, according to a Russian political expert, was simply Vladimir Putin's admission that he was unable to halt the shipments. Export of Ukrainian grain had continued despite the Russian intervention, and a record amount had been shipped on Monday.

Russia on Wednesday announced that it will renew an agreement allowing Ukraine to export grain via the Black Sea, barely four days after halting its involvement in the accord.

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Moscow withdrew from the deal over the weekend, claiming that it could not ensure the security of civilian ships transiting the Black Sea due to a drone strike on its fleet there.
"The Russian Federation deems the assurances obtained at this time to be adequate," according to a statement from the country's Defence Ministry, and has resumed implementation of the agreement.
The decision to reverse course was made during a phone call on Tuesday, November 1, between Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as discussions between their respective defence ministries.
"This is quite an unexpected turnaround," said Andrey Sizov, Head of the Russia-focused Sovecon Agriculture Consultancy.
"We did not bury this deal, but we did not expect Russia’s return to it so soon either, as it was not very clear what kind of guarantees Russia could get and how quickly it would happen. But, well, good job Erdogan."
Even after the tele conversation with the Turkish president, the Kremlin had stated that Moscow would only reconsider continuing the accord after a "full examination" of a drone strike on the Black Sea Fleet on Saturday (October 29), which it suspected Ukraine of conducting together with assistance from Britain.
Ukraine, however, has not taken responsibility for the strike and denies exploiting the grain programme’s security corridor for military purposes.  British officials have denied any participation and slammed Russia for attempting to deflect attention away from its military missteps in Ukraine.
The United Nations and Turkey's involvement made it possible to get formal pledges from Ukraine that it would not exploit the humanitarian corridor or Ukrainian ports for military operations against Russia, as stated in a report published by the Russian Defence Ministry on Wednesday.
Moscow had said on Monday (October 31) that it would be unsafe and unacceptable for ships to proceed via the humanitarian corridor established as part of the agreement mediated by Turkey and the UN, which had opened up Ukrainian ports and maritime channels that Russia had previously blockaded.
Nevertheless, ships had continued to export Ukrainian grain despite the Russian intervention, and a record amount moved on Monday.
Moscow's latest declaration, according to Russian political expert Tatiana Stanovaya, was Putin's admission that he was unable to halt the shipments.
"The Kremlin itself simply fell into a trap from which it did not know how to get out," she said.
"It was necessary to retreat and put on a good face (not very successfully) when faced with a bad game. That is, Putin, no matter how preoccupied he is with Ukraine, his historical mission and his faith that he’s right, remains a moderately rational politician who knows how to retreat if necessary."
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