Vladimir Putin began a food war with the European Union after hydrocarbon blackmail. The Kremlin's head is stuck in war for three month and now uses the shadow of a global crisis to leverage economic sanctions and embargoes to lift them.
According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations), the cost of food has risen by 16.9% since the Russian aggression in Ukraine. 170 million people are now living in extreme poverty. While Russia and Ukraine account for a third of world's wheat production, the conflict has weakened the international food system, leading to fears that a severe crisis will befall the most vulnerable countries.
Ukraine is a major exporter, particularly of wheat and corn, of cereals. However, its production has been halted by the fighting. Russia, a second major cereal exporter, is unable to sell its products and fertilizers due to Western sanctions that have impacted the logistics and financial sectors.
Vladimir Putin and Olaf Scholz spoke by phone on Saturday, May 28, to discuss, among others, the export of cereals while a global crisis in food production is brewing.
According to a Kremlin statement, Putin stated that Russia is willing to assist in finding options for the unhindered exporting of grain, including Ukrainian grain, from ports on Black Sea.
He said that the problems in food delivery were due to "wrong economic, financial and political policies" of Western countries as well as anti-Russian sanction imposed by those countries. According to the statement, an increase in Russian agricultural products and fertilizers could reduce tensions on the international agricultural market. This would, however, require the lifting of all appropriate sanctions against Moscow.
Russian President has "recommitted that Russia won't take advantage of the mine belt that was set up to protect Ukrainian ports and to allow grain export by ship to be allowed to be exported to Ukraine." He also assured the German Chancellery that they all agreed on the central role that the United Nations should play in ensuring exports.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, for his part will travel to Turkey on June 8, to discuss the creation of "secure corridors" that allow the transportation of Ukrainian grain. His Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that "this is the most important question" on Tuesday, May 31. He wants to "create an observation center for corridors in Istanbul." He didn't specify the form of this observation or the role of Turkey.
Turkey, which borders the Black Sea on its southern coast with Russia to the north, is the country that borders the most. The blockade that the Russian Navy placed on Ukrainian ports has made maritime traffic difficult since the beginning of the conflict. Some sea mines have also been deployed and are now approaching the Turkish coast.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it clear that he is willing to help friendly countries which have not taken a stand for Moscow and that he plans to provide them with wheat. "Vladimir Putin makes wheat an important diplomatic tool," warns TF1 Arthur Portier.
Franceinfo Michel Portier is the director of Agritel, an analysis and consulting firm that specializes in agricultural and agroindustrial markets. We are on real blackmail [...]: If you're not kind, I will not give you wheat."