The Razoni sails: a breakthrough for grain exports?

For the first time since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine a cargo ship carrying grain has left the port of Odesa. The Razoni, loaded with 26,000 tonnes of maize, set sail on Monday for Lebanon. Whether this hails a breakthrough for exports of the roughly 20 million tonnes of stored Ukrainian grain remains uncertain, commentators note, taking a critical look at those congratulating themselves for this success.

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The Times (GB) /

Putin's finger still on the trigger

We're not out of the woods yet, says The Times:

“By letting a trickle of wheat and corn leave Ukraine's ports Mr Putin is cynically gambling that he will be seen as a saviour of the global south. His calculation too is that sanctions against Russian exports of fertiliser will be eased, that Ukraine will be forced to reveal its network of sea-mines around its coastline ... It would be reckless to count on Mr Putin rethinking his war aims. ... Mr Putin's finger is still on the trigger.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

So far more about improving its image

Russia was forced to make this concession, writes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

“If Moscow had refused a deal on grain exports, even Russia's creative propaganda would have difficulties continuing to blame the global food shortages on the West. The West has to live with the fact that this lie falls on fertile ground in the 'global South'. But the same applies to grain as to gas. If Russia wants a pretext for new obstructions, it will find one. This is why 26,000 tonnes of maize are now being shipped across the Black Sea. But a lot needs to be done before the world has enough bread (again).”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

A success with many winners

Many sides have an interest in the deal being successful, Corriere della Sera stresses:

“UN Secretary-General António Guterres's promises to Putin include the easing of sanctions. Kyiv sees the agreement as a first concrete sign of salvation for its economy, which the war has put into a comatose state: more than half of its GNP depends on agricultural exports. ... But it is Erdoğan who has made the biggest coup, once again assuming the role of the great mediator between Moscow and the West. He is a full-fledged member of Nato and at the same time a non-partisan leader capable of negotiating on an equal standing with the superpowers.”

France Inter (FR) /

United by the pleasure they take in excluding the West

The grain deal has worked out so far also thanks to the friendly relations between Putin and Erdoğan, France Inter comments:

“These two men share imperialist ideas and an authoritarian conception of power. For Russia, its empire is nothing without Ukraine. In Turkey's case matters are more complex: in a way, Erdoğan believes that Turkish Kurdistan is his own version of Ukraine. ... Even if they're fighting each other in Syria and Libya, the two men respect each other. They interpret history in the same way and know how to make quick deals, both taking particular pleasure in excluding the West - and the Russian-Ukrainian grain agreement is a case in point.”

Daily Sabah (TR) /

Erdoğan the trouble-shooter

The pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah hopes that the Turkish president will now turn his attention to the next major conflict:

“Although the grain crisis has been partially overcome, a natural gas bottleneck is next. ... But can a political solution be found to the impending pre-winter crisis? Who knows? Maybe Erdoğan, who has been pursuing a policy of balance instead of being a 'party' since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis and thus mediating the grain corridor, will step in again. Apart from him, there is no other leader in a position to take on this role.”