Français | English
For the other articles see > SPECIAL ARCHIVE UKRAINE

In clos­ing this chron­i­cle that has stretched out across these one hun­dred days of this cur­rent war in Europe, I return to the Black Sea and Turkey.

On Wednes­day June 8 2022, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, head of Turk­ish diplo­ma­cy, held a meet­ing in Ankara with his Russ­ian coun­ter­part Sergey Lavrov, well-known right-hand man to Vladimir Putin and per­ma­nent fix­ture at the Krem­lin. These dis­cus­sions were main­ly about grain exports and thus, about the set­ting up of a mar­itime route in the Black Sea for “grain cor­ri­dors”. In order to achieve this, Turkey was offer­ing its kind ser­vices in secur­ing con­voys, fol­low­ing the de-min­ing of the Black Sea and, notably, of the port in Ode­sa. It was also propos­ing the cre­ation of an “obser­va­tion cen­ter of these cor­ri­dors” in Istanbul.

At the onset of the Russ­ian aggres­sion against Ukraine, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had for­bid­den pas­sage through the straights of the Bospho­rus and of the Dar­d­anelles to war­ships, as the Mon­treux Treaty autho­rizes him to do.

In fact, this mea­sure will need to be con­trolled even clos­er should such food cor­ri­dors see the light of day.

How­ev­er, on this Wednes­day June 8th, no Ukrain­ian rep­re­sen­ta­tive was invit­ed to the dis­cus­sions, although Turkey claimed to be work­ing at reach­ing an agree­ment with the back­ing of the UN. Yet, the grain and oil reserves trapped by war clear­ly belong to Ukraine where the coun­try being bom­bard­ed, they occu­py silos and oth­er stock­ing facil­i­ties required for the 2022 har­vests, even if these will be reduced because of the war.

This meet­ing with heavy media cov­er­age could not reach any con­clu­sions since the main par­ty, Ukraine, was nei­ther heard nor lis­tened to, even if one may expect that the Turk­ish regime apprised it pri­or to the event.

Dur­ing the final press con­fer­ence, Sergey Lavrov main­ly insist­ed on the demand that sanc­tions against Rus­sia be lift­ed, the Ukrain­ian shore­line de-mined, and he denounced Ukraine’s “aggres­sive atti­tude in all mat­ters. He then min­i­mized the food prob­lem cre­at­ed by the non-export of grain and insist­ed on the fact Ukraine is entire­ly respon­si­ble for this, since Rus­sia is also placed in a dif­fi­cult posi­tion for com­mer­cial use of the Black Sea. A speech entire­ly Lavrov-style, with the inevitable ref­er­ence to “nazis”. As there has been report of trans­porta­tion of mer­chan­dise via Sebastopol in Crimea, among oth­er places, one can  read­i­ly under­stand that Russia’s main goal is the lift­ing of sanc­tions and the de-mining.

A Ukrain­ian jour­nal­ist in atten­dance threw a pall on the pro­ceed­ings when he asked an unsched­uled ques­tion, that of the theft of grain by Rus­sia in the ter­ri­to­ries it occu­pies, and the re-sale at cut prices, notably to… Turkey. This ques­tion came fol­low­ing Amer­i­can dec­la­ra­tions con­cern­ing the hijack­ing of Ukrain­ian wheat and deliv­er­ies to friends of Rus­sia , Syr­ia among them, observed recently.

Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s cher­ished frame­work for mov­ing for­ward, thus end­ed on ques­tions call­ing atten­tion to the diplo­mat­ic game being played joint­ly by Turkey and the Russ­ian regime, and the sin­cer­i­ty of the intent of achiev­ing free circulation.

For over a decade, rela­tions between Rus­sia and Turkey may appear very uneven and  set on a zigza­g­ing path. And yet, their con­ti­nu­ity rests on the oppor­tunism dis­played by both par­ties, in every cir­cum­stance where their inter­ests and impe­r­i­al  wish­es find com­mon ground. This is the case for Syr­ia, ener­gy, region­al geopo­lit­i­cal rela­tions and inter­na­tion­al poli­cies aimed at the Unit­ed States.

As a reminder, despite being a mem­ber of Nato, Turkey acquired Russ­ian S400 mis­sile bat­ter­ies and main­tained its order for a sec­ond lot, even with the risk this entailed for the fund­ing of some of its mil­i­tary pro­grams, such as the Altay tank or the TFX fight­er plane. At the same time, it lost its rank­ing in obtain­ing Amer­i­can F35 fight­er planes in the Nato frame­work. And now, Recep  Tayyip Erdo­gan is threat­en­ing to block Fin­land and Sweden’s access to Nato. Turkey is depen­dent for ener­gy and has entrust­ed a part of its nuclear projects to Putin.

Turkey also avoid­ed join­ing the sanc­tion pol­i­cy against Russ­ian oli­garchs and greets them open­ly in its vaca­tion spots, while leav­ing the door open to migrat­ing oppo­nents to the war, from the wealthy class­es of Russ­ian towns. Russ­ian cit­i­zens do not require visas there.

And, at the same time, Turkey has cham­pi­oned deliv­ery of its com­bat drones to Ukraine, even before the onset of the cur­rent war.

So what makes Turkey run to take part in this diplo­mat­ic ballet?

And what are the inten­tions of the Russ­ian regime when it plays the card of  food shortage?

In both of these approach­es, one finds the polit­i­cal com­po­nent of ex-Empires  that takes the form for both of them of wars to regain ter­ri­to­ries they con­sid­er lost. The Ottoman dream and ex URSS, briefly stat­ed. On the inter­na­tion­al lev­el, they are impelled by the same wish for wars of influ­ence on the African con­ti­nent among oth­ers. Thus, the issue of grain com­pletes that of Wag­n­er, for Putin, and for the oth­er, the ex-Gulen Coran­ic schools that are now part of Turkey’s advanced diplo­ma­cy. Offer­ing the face of a food sav­ior against the con­se­quences of a war manip­u­lat­ed by the West , is nei­ther innocu­ous nor accidental.

Impos­ing its diplo­mat­ic pres­ence at the inter­na­tion­al lev­el is also vital for the Turk­ish regime with approach­ing elec­tions and a cat­a­stroph­ic domes­tic econ­o­my show­ing a grow­ing infla­tion, denied by the regime and rela­belled high cost of liv­ing . It also means estab­lish­ing the required lever­age to get Euro­pean States and the US to close their eyes on the pro­ject­ed and announced cap­ture of new ter­ri­to­ries in North­ern Syr­ia, for exam­ple, even if this requires exert­ing black­mail with­in Nato.

In such a con­text, all ges­tic­u­la­tions, even devoid of tan­gi­ble results, are worth the effort.

Accord­ing to the FAO (Food and Agri­cul­ture Orga­ni­za­tion of the UN), some 300 mil­lion peo­ple are direct­ly impact­ed in the poor­est coun­tries by the short­age of grains and oil caused by the block­ades. These pover­ty-afflict­ed pop­u­la­tions are and will be impact­ed both direct­ly through lack but even more so by the dou­bling of prices, cap­i­tal­ist mar­kets play­ing a dizzy­ing game of ris­ing costs. To the dou­ble sen­tence brought on by cli­mate change  and the destruc­tion of local mar­kets, will be added the dou­bling of prices by the glob­al ones. In such a case, the sit­u­a­tion could be used to its fullest by the Russ­ian regime.

The wheat and hunger weapon is thus being used con­scious­ly by the Putin regime and, with it, the threat of increased migra­tions toward Europe, which the Russ­ian regime knows to be a very sen­si­tive issue, since it par­tic­i­pat­ed in an under­hand­ed way in the manip­u­la­tions of migra­tion and mis­ery on the bor­der of Belarus. There also, Turkey played a most ambigu­ous role.

The Arab Springs  had set cap­i­tal­ist glob­al­iza­tion quak­ing, now, the fear of hunger riots and their desta­bi­liza­tions added to the cli­mate crises and their con­se­quences are start­ing to take hold of West­ern coun­tries. The UN is right in rais­ing the alarm, but the West­ern pow­ers them­selves, touched by infla­tion, fear a gen­er­al­iza­tion of hunger induced social trou­bles  that would ques­tion strong allied  regimes. Always bad for business.

Like a time bomb.

Vladimir: We must come back tomorrow.

Estragon: What for?

Vladimir: To wait for Godot.

Estragon: That’s true. (A pause). He hasn’t come yet?

Vladimir: No.

Estragon: And now it’s too late.

Vladimir: Yes, it’s night time.

Estragon: What if we give up? (A pause). What if we dropped him?

Vladimir: He would pun­ish us. (Silence. He looks at the tree). Only the tree lives.

Estragon: (Looks at the tree) What is it?

Vladimir: It’s the tree.

Estragon: No, I mean, what kind?

Vladimir: I don’t know. A willow.

Estragon: Come and see. (He brings Vladimir toward the tree. They stand in front of it. Silence.) And what if we hung ourselves?

For the other articles see > SPECIAL ARCHIVE UKRAINE

Translation from French by Renée Lucie Bourges

Sup­port Kedis­tan, MAKE A CONTRIBUTION.

We maintain the “Kedistan tool” as well as its archives. We are fiercely committed to it remaining free of charge, devoid of advertising and with ease of consultation for our readers, even if this has a financial costs, covered up till now by financial contributions (all the authors at Kedistan work on a volunteer basis).
You may use and share Kedistan’s articles and translations, specifying the source and adding a link in order to respect the writer(s) and translator(s) work. Thank you.
Daniel Fleury on FacebookDaniel Fleury on Twitter
Daniel Fleury
Let­tres mod­ernes à l’Université de Tours. Gros mots poli­tiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…