Turkish Navy could guarantee grain deal if Russia withdraws

According to a tweet published by The Azeri Times on July 9, 2023, Türkiye and Ukraine have affirmed that their grain agreement will persist, regardless of Russia's potential withdrawal. Security for shipping corridors will be provided by the Turkish Navy.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Turkish Istanbul class frigate TCG Istanbul. (Picture source: Turkish MoD)

Known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the Initiative on the Safe Transportation of Grain and Foodstuffs was established amidst the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

This agreement, involving Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and the United Nations (UN), was a response to the cessation of maritime grain shipments from Ukraine - a key exporter via the Black Sea - due to the conflict.

The halt in Russia's grain exports further intensified the issue, leading to increased global food prices, risks of famine in impoverished nations, and allegations of Russia's utilization of food supplies as a weapon.

To mitigate the crisis, Turkey - the controller of the maritime paths from the Black Sea - and the UN initiated discussions in April 2022. The subsequent agreement, signed on 22 July 2022 in Istanbul, established guidelines for the safe exportation of grain from specified ports and aimed to address the 2022 food crisis.

The agreement, initially valid for 120 days, also led to the creation of a joint coordination and inspection center located in Turkey, with the UN acting as secretariat.

Despite temporary suspension due to a drone attack on Russian naval vessels, Russia rejoined the agreement, which was extended twice thereafter, initially in November 2022, then in March and May 2023.

As of mid-May 2023, the agreement facilitated over 950 voyages, transporting over 30 million tonnes of grain and food items from Ukrainian ports to more than 40 countries. Despite Russia's ongoing threats to withdraw in summer 2023 if its demands aren't met, the agreement stands firm.