Director of the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) Indrek Kannik says that the grain crisis is the most acute for Russia's few remaining allies, which is why the country is willing to sign an agreement with Ukraine.
Kannik said that Russia and Ukraine agreed to the grain exports agreement because both regard a Russian landing in southern Ukraine a virtual impossibility.
"After the Ukrainians managed to sink the flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet, the missile cruiser Moscow, and oust Russian troops from Snake Island, after they learned that Ukrainians have Harpoon anti-ship missiles and their own Neptun rockets, landing on the Black Sea coast close to Odessa became all but impossible. Therefore, the military target was off the table and the question remained whether continuing the blockade makes sense politically," Kannik suggested.
Russia is short on allies and most are developing countries worst affected by the grain shortage. "To send them a positive signal, the Russians decided that an agreement at least can be signed. This also benefits Ukraine as grain sales are a source of income," he said.
The ICDS director added that it is not a top priority for Ukraine as the West will keep up its support of Ukraine and not allow it to go bankrupt. "Ukraine will be kept alive even without the grain proceeds."
"Russia attempted to negotiate a situation where convoys out of Ukrainian ports would be escorted by Russian warships. The Ukrainians did not agree once, and the role of guardian has been left to Turkey and the UN. I don't see it as major concession from Ukraine. They will have to demine narrow corridors that I do not see is a major risk at this time. Furthermore, they will be able to quickly lay new mines should a landing become more likely," Kannik offered.
Russia had to settle for the grain being moved out without their control.
Kannik regards the attack on the Port of Odessa as a typical example of Russia's political style where agreements are signed and immediately violated. "There is speculation that the information did not reach troops in time, speculation that a part of the brass was not happy about such an agreement being signed on the political level. But I would take those with a generous helping of salt as I believe it is coordinated activity and a message to the world that Russia is ready to violate agreements should it wish to do so."
Whether the agreement will prove practicable should become clear in the next few weeks.
Editor: Marcus Turovski