Global food security is on the line: breaking claims of the threatened Ukraine grain deal | Techno Glob

Global food security is on the line: breaking claims of the threatened Ukraine grain deal

Ships are still running, but for how long? On October 29, Russia withdrew from a United Nations (UN)-brokered deal that allowed Ukrainian ships carrying grain and fertilizer safe passage through Black Sea ports that Russia has closed since the start of the war. Although Russia has not reimposed the blockade, Moscow could shut down one of the world’s largest wheat exporters at any moment. The UN is working to revive the agreement, but Ukraine, Turkey and the UN plan to freeze shipments on Tuesday. As the Atlantic Council prepares to host the Global Food Security Forum on the sidelines of the Group of Twenty (G20) summit in Bali, Indonesia, we turned to our experts on global food security and the war in Ukraine to explain why this deal is happening. Predict the danger and what will happen next.

What are the roles for global food security in keeping these shipments flowing? What if they choke again?

Russia’s suspension of a not-so-small grain-export deal is just the latest in a series of developments over the past year that underscore the need for world leaders to put food security at the top of the global diplomatic agenda—starting with the G20.

A year ago, before the war in Ukraine began, I wrote about “For the world’s poor, the most basic of all goods: food.” My goal then was to warn of long-term threats, mainly from a changing climate, to the global food supply and, as a result, global hunger, famine and violent conflict. In 2022, the war in Ukraine and worldwide weather disruptions—especially in the Northern Hemisphere, which saw catastrophic droughts in many breadbaskets this summer—show how fragile global food supplies are at the moment. Any further disruption will only fuel more hunger and increase the risk of increased conflict and political upheaval, particularly in the Global South. Given current events, it should be straightforward enough to address this issue now. The hard part is keeping it there for a long time.

Peter Engelke Scowcroft is Deputy Director and Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategy and Security and Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Global Energy Center.

How does this news fit into the broader context of Russia’s war in Ukraine?

After a successful Ukrainian attack on Russia’s Black Sea fleet, Moscow announced that it was ending its participation in a grain deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July, which had blocked grain shipments since Moscow launched its conventional invasion of the country from Ukraine. February. The grain deal was due to be renewed in November, but many analysts expected Moscow not to agree to its extension. When the deal was reached in early summer, Russian forces appeared to have recovered from early spring defeats near Kyiv, Chernihiv and Kharkiv and were making slow progress toward their new goal of seizing all of Donbas from Ukraine. Since then, Moscow’s military fortunes have declined. With HIMARs and other long-range artillery provided by the United States and its NATO allies, Ukraine halted the Kremlin offensive in July and launched a successful counteroffensive, first in the northeast near Kharkiv and now in the south near Kherson. To make matters worse for the Kremlin, Ukraine later disabled the Kerch Strait bridge for supply purposes. This was a major embarrassment for Russian President Vladimir Putin and made it more difficult to supply Russian forces in southern Ukraine.

Given the inability of his military to stop Ukraine’s advances on the battlefield, Putin has resorted to other measures to punish the country’s civilian population. After the strike on the Kerch Strait bridge, it launched a major bombing campaign against Ukrainian infrastructure, particularly its electricity grid. Observers thought that Putin, under pressure at home for Russia’s lackluster performance in the war, would renew the grain deal, which would bring substantial revenue to Ukraine.

Again trying to make lemonade out of lemons, Putin linked the cancellation of the grain deal to the latest attack on Ukraine’s Black Sea fleet, saying it hit a ship involved in Russia’s enforcement of the deal. Moscow claims that only one warship was hit and that it was able to neutralize the unmanned air and surface drones used in the attack, but other reports suggest that the current Black Sea flagship, Admiral MakarovHit with a minesweeper Igor Golubets.

Moscow’s announcement has UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres scrambling to restore the deal; But the Kremlin has not decided at this point to reimpose the embargo that shut down Ukrainian grain exports last spring and signaled the need for an original grain deal. Perhaps Moscow fears a blowback if it reimposes the blockade. The United States and the European Union should step up their efforts to encourage Turkey and major Ukrainian food importers in the Global South to call on Moscow to cut off Ukrainian grain shipments.

John Herbst Senior Director of the Eurasia Center and former US Ambassador to Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

What can Turkey and the West do now to prevent this from spiraling out of control?

A grain corridor can work successfully in a tripartite format; Ukraine needs military escorts, not a new deal with Russia.

Although Russia officially suspended its participation in the grain agreement – a decision linked to “major” attacks on the Black Sea fleet 220 kilometers from the grain corridor – Moscow has made it clear that it has no intention of keeping the initiative alive. Since mid-September, Russian representatives have insisted on full-fledged inspections of ships, disrupting normal maritime traffic flows and the daily operations of the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) established as part of the grain agreement: the average duration of full inspections in the Marmara Sea process has increased fivefold. , in some cases more than twenty days. This comes in parallel with the Russian leadership’s demand to review the terms of the agreement to facilitate the export of Russian wheat to the world market as well as the supply of fertilizers such as ammonia.

Russia’s decision to curtail the work of the Grain Corridor, therefore, is nothing but blackmail and should be treated as such.

Ukraine has accused the Kremlin of using “false pretexts” to legitimize attacks on global food security and critical energy infrastructure in Ukraine. But Russia’s recent moves won’t do just that: they will halt the deal, which helped successfully export more than nine million tons of Ukrainian grain, and offer to replace it with Russian grain (often looted from Ukraine’s occupied territories). These moves will also put pressure on global markets, pushing up prices and fueling food inflation; increasing pressure on Western policymakers to increase the cost of their support to Ukraine; And try to stop Ukrainian counter-offensives in the south, as the Kremlin links the success of the grain deal to a ceasefire in the occupied territories of Kherson and Crimea.

Here’s what Turkey and the West should do:

  1. Secure the Grain Corridor and continue to implement the agreement in a tripartite format with close coordination between the UN, Turkey and Ukraine. Thirty-six inspections were carried out on Monday and thirty-six on Tuesday, after the vessels resumed operation on 31 October following a joint decision by the UN Secretariat and the Turkish delegation to the JCC. These numbers help prove not only the viability of the JCC mechanisms, but also their increased efficiency when not blocked by the Russian delegation.
  2. Dispel the Russian myth that the treaty was violated by other parties to the exclusion of Russia. It was a unilateral decision by Russia to withdraw from the agreement, and a decision to return could easily resume its participation. Second, the Grains Agreement was launched in July as two parallel agreements: one with the United Nations, Turkey and Ukraine; And another from the United Nations, Turkey and Russia. Mechanisms envisioned by the agreement with the JCC and UN-Turkey inspection teams are still in place; A Russian decision to attack the convoys would be the only breach of the agreement.
  3. Be prepared for Russian provocations and provide a naval escort. Passing through already loaded ships awaiting inspection has so far been successful. However, with new ships yet to be loaded in Ukrainian ports, the situation may be different. While direct Russian attacks on the bulwarks are unlikely, Russian provocations, incidents at sea, and mining of waterways are more likely. Military escorts for humanitarian convoys provided by Turkey or other NATO allies would both secure an uninterrupted supply of grain to countries in need and send a clear message to Russia that its blackmail by the West will no longer be tolerated. The continued supply of air-defense systems to Ukraine is critical to protecting its port infrastructure and grain storage facilities as Russian attacks become more likely.

Yevgenia Gabor He is a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council in Turkey and was previously a foreign policy advisor to the Prime Minister of Ukraine.

Further reading

Related Experts:
Peter Engelke,
John E. HerbstAnd
Yevgenia Gabor

Image: A Ukrainian soldier stands in front of a grain silo in the Black Sea port of Odessa, ahead of a grain shipment, as the Ukrainian government waits for a signal to start a grain shipment, during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Odessa, Ukraine, March 29, 2022. Photo by Nacho Doss/Reuters

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