Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that Turkey considered Russia’s “legitimate” request to link the release of Ukrainian grain exports to the lifting of sanctions against Moscow.
“If we have to open the Ukrainian international market, we believe that removing obstacles to Russian exports is legitimate,” the head of Turkish diplomacy insisted during his meeting in Ankara with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
Between 20 and 25 million tons cracked
While between 20 and 25 million tons of grain harvested in 2021 remains banned in Ukraine, Turkey is, once again, maneuvering to find a deal on grain exports from Kyiv through the Black Sea and the straits it controls.
Even if Moscow said it was “ready” to secure these exports, Sergey Lavrov was careful not to make the slightest concession on Wednesday. “We should not expect anything else at a time when Russian forces are advancing in the east and when the Ukrainian army appears to be facing difficulties,” analyzes Jan Marco, a specialist in Turkey, and a teacher at Science Po Grenoble.
But this position of the mediator, which has already been approved twice without much success since the beginning of the conflict, fits perfectly into the Turkish position. Jean Marco asserts: “Even before the outbreak of the war, Turkey was already practicing what we might call a big gap policy. While remaining a member of NATO, the country signed agreements or benefited from rapprochement with Russia. This policy has been illustrated on several occasions, particularly during The war in Syria, although the two countries support different sides in the fighting.We have seen this convergence of work on the Caucasian conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, where Moscow and Ankara agreed to establish a measure to achieve stability.This convergence of circumstances is supported by significant economic cooperation in the field of gas. Russia also built Turkey’s first nuclear power plant. There was also the purchase of Russian S-400 missiles which caused tensions with NATO allies which the Turks had to decide not to deploy.”
“Supplying Bayraktar Drones”
At the same time, Turkey has also developed privileged relations with Ukraine. At the same time, Ankara did not hesitate to express its differences with Moscow, Jean Marco continues. The state has never recognized the annexation of Crimea. Since 2014, significant cooperation, not only economic but also military, has been developed with kyiv, in particular through the supply of Bayraktar TB2 drones. »
“This cooperation has gone even further since the Ukrainians have developed new engines for these drones, continues the academic. It is even said that Turkey has found in Ukraine a partner that allows it to implement military projects, with the completion of a new tank and even the development of a fighter plane with Ukrainian engines. »
“Inflation exceeded 70% inflation in May”
While some countries in the Middle East and Africa, which rely heavily on Ukrainian and Russian grain, are threatened by famine, the question of opening safe corridors is likely to arise in an increasingly urgent manner. Turkey has good reason to continue its desire to establish itself as a major mediator.
With Trenches, the Loup Bureau reveals the daily life of Ukrainian fighters in Donbas
“Even if the West considers its position ambiguous in the absence of the application of sanctions against Russia, the country is obliged to carry out the balancing process to contribute to global stability and avoid military escalation in the Black Sea while maintaining its own stability. Special internal stability. Turkey was severely affected by the repercussions of the war, with inflation reaching more from 70% in May. All opinion polls show that the government was defeated in the elections of 2023. This is one of the system’s biggest fears, “concludes Jean Marco.