Russia Reveals Its Real Colours by Assaulting Odesa Port Only Hours After Completing a Grain Deal With Ukraine!
Antonio Guterres, who is the head of the UN, looked both relieved and worried as the grain export deal he helped make was signed in Istanbul on Friday.
Immediately following the signatures by Russia, Ukraine, and intermediary Turkey, the UN secretary-general said the deal offered a “beacon of hope,” heralding food relief for the developing world.
Guterres and everyone who was counting on the much-needed food was disappointed that his months of diplomatic work, which included trips to Moscow and Kyiv to seal the deal, showed how hard it is to trust Russia.
There is no explicit ceasefire in the deal, but Russia’s obligations were spelled out: “The Russian Federation has committed to facilitate the unimpeded export of food, sunflower oil, and fertilizers,” a statement from Guterres’ office said.
Less than 24 hours after the deal was signed, the peace in Odesa, the main port named in the agreement, was broken when two Russian Kalibr cruise missiles fired from the sea hit the harbor.
Buildings almost a mile away had windows blown out. Firefighters ran to the port to put out the fires on several boats. Officials say that one harbor worker was hurt.
The damage could have been much worse; Ukraine’s air defense had already shot down two more of the $6 million precision missiles. Beachgoers in Odessa cheered when the intercept went off high above them. Last year, they had to fight with Russian tourists for space on the sand.
The ‘coda’ that Russia added to the grain deal it had signed has been criticized by Ukraine and its allies, who see it as proof that Russia is lying.
Speaking to CNN within hours of the attack, Ukrainian member of parliament Oleksiy Goncharenko said Russia was “showing they want to continue to threaten the world’s food security.”
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that the attack cast serious doubt on Russia’s commitment and hurt the UN, Turkey, and Ukraine’s efforts to get important food to world markets.
“It shows that you can’t believe a word [Russian President Vladimir Putin] says,” said Liz Truss, the UK’s foreign minister, and a possible future prime minister.
Surprisingly, Russia’s first reaction to hearing about the attack was to deny it.
Turkey, which also signed the deal and is in charge of making sure it is carried out fairly and safely, says that the Kremlin told Ankara “in no uncertain terms” that it had “nothing to do with this attack.”
Yet just 12 hours later, Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reversed the initial lie. She said they were Russian strikes after all and claimed the attack had taken out Ukrainian “military infrastructure” in the harbor. Ukraine has said the strikes hit a pumping station at the Odesa port.
Russian officials often lie like this, and that’s the point of this article. Even with all of Guterres’ hard work and diplomatic efforts, the grain deal hasn’t changed how Moscow plans to fight the war.
And the damage done here isn’t just a reminder to the rest of the world that Moscow doesn’t always tell the truth. Russia has also burned the good faith of Turkey, which was the middleman in the deal.
Under the terms of the agreement, Turkey is setting up a Joint Command Center (JCC) with the help of the UN to make sure that everyone is following the rules. But Russia has already destroyed any chance of trust because of how cynical it has been about the whole war in Ukraine.
Russia’s invasion of one of the world’s breadbaskets has made it hard for people to get food all over the world, but as part of the deal, Moscow got some concessions that will let Ukraine’s grain flow. This is often called blackmail.
Guterres had to make a separate deal with Russia to ease some food and fertilizer sanctions so that Russia would release the grain and stop blocking Ukrainian ports. This made it possible for Russia to stop blocking Ukrainian ports and release the grain. The diplomacy, according to UN officials, is “based on the principle that measures imposed on the Russian Federation do not apply to these products.”
If those sanctions are lifted, Moscow will get money. This may be the most important thing to remember about Guterres’ deal: Putin will make limited concessions for money.
But by doing so, Putin may have shown, like Tolkien’s Smaug, a hole in his defenses that could be fatal. Putin’s weakness seems to be the economic bite of international sanctions, just like the weakness of the mythical dragon was a missing scale. If he agreed to the deal for any other reason, it’s probably because he needs to pay for the war.
After Saturday’s missile attack, Yurii Vaskov, the deputy infrastructure minister of Ukraine, said in Istanbul that technical meetings were going on to put the deal into action.
“Ukraine is determined to start grain export as soon as possible,” he said. Russia’s “attack is also on the agenda,” Vaskov added.
Guterres was right to be optimistic. The future of the UN Security Council depends on its ability to stop Russia from making its chosen war worse. But if he was worried when he signed the contract on Friday, nothing he has seen so far will make him feel better. Not to mention that Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lied about the deal on Sunday by saying that Russian ships would help guide the cargo ships. Like the missile attack, this is a statement that is meant to provoke Ukraine.
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