Odessa air strikes: what will become of the grain deal?

Representatives from Russia and Ukraine met Friday with UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Istanbul to reach an agreement on how to export the grain supplies that are trapped in Ukrainian ports. On Saturday Russian rockets were fired on Odessa. According to Russia they were targeting military infrastructure, but according to Kyiv they hit civilian port facilities. Commentators are dismayed.

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El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Food supplies in constant danger

El Periódico de Catalunya laments the powerlessness of the international community:

“The inability of the international community to enforce compliance with agreements stokes fears of increased social precariousness in areas that lack the resources to mitigate the consequences of the war. This is very worrying. ... Even if the first grain ships are able to set sail after the disruption caused by the bombing of the port of Odessa, the fear remains that grain exports could be stopped again at any moment and for any reason. In other words, the guarantees for the food supplies of tens of millions of people have evaporated.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Russia benefits from this deal

Moscow clearly has an interest in keeping to agreements, Le Monde stresses:

“The agreement allows Russia, to ease the sanctions imposed by the West against its own exports. But above all it contributes to Moscow's propaganda narrative that Russia is not to blame for the supply problems in African and Asian countries, which until now have refused to side with the West. ... The immediate condemnation of the Russian missile attack by the United Nations spokesperson makes it clear that Vladimir Putin will not be able to keep turning the screw at will without jeopardising the implementation of the agreement. ”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

A cynical game with no consequences

Trying to negotiate peace with Russia is obviously delusional, die taz concludes:

“Russia's government is only interested in subjugation through force. Bombing Odessa is a demonstration of power. The message: don't think our hands are tied just because we signed something. ... No agreement with the current regime in Russia is worth the paper it's written on. We know about Russia's cynical game from the wars in Syria and the Donbas in 2014/15: any diplomatic assurances from Moscow will be immediately followed by a military demonstration of the opposite, with Russia knowing all too well that there will be no consequences – that the other side just wants peace.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Finally acknowledge the truth

La Stampa also explains the strategy behind Russia's unpredictability:

“Russia's toing and froing between doomsday accusations and playing the victim, between turgid narratives about the rosy prospects of the Russian economy and the 'colossal' damage caused by Western sanctions, between justifying the invasion with the threat posed by Nato and admitting it is part of the project to restore its empire, and now between signed agreements and rocket attacks that make the goal painstakingly achieved through diplomatic channels a waste of time - all this is part of the Kremlin's now predictably unpredictable strategy. Closing our eyes to this reality is not only naïve, but also irresponsible.”

Vyacheslav Azarov (UA) /

Separate food from war logistics

Vyacheslav Azarov, a left-wing blogger living in Odessa, says on his Facebook page that Ukraine should have expected the attacks:

“Recently I wrote that for the 'grain corridor' to function smoothly, the Odessa area must be removed from the logistics of military aid deliveries, otherwise it will continue to be attacked and it will be impossible to export food. Clearly this problem has not been eliminated, and it could be that, on the contrary, more weapons have been supplied under the guise of a grain contract. This means we face the prospect of more attacks - until the problem is solved.”

Kurier (AT) /

Force Russia to make peace

The shelling shows that only clear military victories can make an impression on warlord Putin, stresses the daily Kurier:

“It's not so easy to make peace with Putin. ... So at the moment there is only one message that definitely gets through to the Kremlin: continuous military pressure using modern weapons from the West. Only once Russia's war of aggression is hopelessly deadlocked will Putin really move on to the diplomatic stage.”