Putin threatens as grain deal falls apart, but ends up impotent as usual
Slow and steady…
Not as dramatic as September, but Ukraine is marching forward. There’s a reason why Putin seems so eager to freeze the conflict in place with negotiations.
Turkey mediated a deal on July 22 between Ukraine and Russia (under the U.N. umbrella) to allow Ukraine to export agricultural products out of its Black Sea port of Odesa. This Black Sea Grain Initiative allowed over 400 ships to exit Ukrainian ports carrying nearly 10 million tonnes of grain, sunflower oil, and other agricultural products. (A U.S. ton is equal to roughly 0.9 metric tonnes.)
The agreement was supposed to expire in three weeks, on Nov. 19, but Russia had been chafing at the deal for weeks, floating various excuses for quitting the deal until this weekend, when a Ukrainian drone attack on its Sevastopol naval base gave it the excuse to violate yet another agreement. (Why anyone insists that Russia will respect any deal is beyond me.) According to Russia, Ukraine used the grain corridor to launch its drone attacks (Ukraine doesn’t have a navy), yet ironically, all those submarines launching missiles into Ukrainian civilian infrastructure in recent weeks? Yup, they did so from the grain corridor.
Russia is so much like our Republicans: Everything is projection, and every claim is something they themselves are already doing. Anyway, the deal wasn’t actually between Russia and Ukraine, but both sides signed mirror agreements with Turkey and the U.N. For their part, Russia was allowed to ship its own agricultural products, fertilizer, and raw materials from their own Black Sea ports (something that, uh, was already happening).
Yet a funny thing happened today—despite Russia’s temper tantrum and declaration that it could no longer “protect” the merchant ships, Turkey assumed the role of protector under the UN banner. Today, a convoy of 14 grain ships left Odesa as Russia watched helplessly—the largest single-day shipment since the war began, totaling 354,500 tonnes of grain. An attack on the convoy or its Turkish escort would be an attack on a NATO nation, and despite their bluster, an actual confrontation with Western transatlantic alliance is the last thing Vladimir Putin wants.
Funny thing, this isn’t even about NATO. Turkey alone could handle the pathetic floating wreckage that is Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
Russian Telegram users are losing their shit over it. Popular channel Starshe Edda, with over 627,000 subscribers, was apoplectic.
Kyiv, Ankara and the UN (according to media reports) decided to conduct a convoy “with grain”, despite the Russian ban. Obviously, Erdogan went to raise rates, balancing on the verge of an armed conflict. It is not necessary to sink ships with the main caliber of our Black Sea Fleet (despite the numerous glaring mistakes of the naval command, we have the Black Sea Fleet). But the explosion on sea mines (naturally scattered by Ukraine), as well as the capture / destruction of bulk carriers by unknown saboteurs, that’s it. These crests are capable of anything, I am sure that they will sink dry cargo ships in order to blame Russia later.
With some of these, I wonder if the incoherence is the milbloggers, or the translation software. Essentially, Starshe Edda is saying, “Let’s destroy a ship and blame it on Ukrainian mines or unknown saboteurs. But if a ship gets destroyed, they will unfairly blame us!”
This channel, with over 140,000 subscribers, was similarly out for blood.
Kyiv, Ankara and the UN agreed on the movement of 14 ships in the Black Sea on Monday as part of the “grain deal”. Well, Russia was notified. Nice wording. Translated from the diplomatic means “you are this, stand there aside while the adults decide.” In fact, the West decided to aggravate the situation. Kyiv attacked Sevastopol with naval drones – Moscow withdrew from the grain deal – now a caravan of ships will be led to a breakthrough. Without the approval of Moscow. Therefore, if you look at the situation through the prism of 9 months of SVO, there should be only one reaction. The passage of the caravan must be stopped by all available means. The Black Sea Fleet has enough of them. However, the sea is already stuffed with sea mines, which were thrown by the Ukrainian military. In any case, the passage of a caravan without a military escort is a risky business. And I don’t think that Moscow should make any statements in this situation. Warships at sea on the way would be the best statement.
Yet despite all that bluster, the caravan got through unscathed. The best Russia could muster was a revenge strike against a barge in another part of Ukraine.
That barge wasn’t under Turkish protection, so Putin could act all tough; freakin’ coward.
Of course, just because today’s caravan got through unimpeded doesn’t mean Russia will continue to suffer in silence. The situation will remain tense unless a new agreement is put in place, or the war comes to its conclusion.
I know you are wondering about the picture at the top of this post! I got that done through SignMyRocket.com (using my own funds, not company ones), which allows donors to the Ukrainian military to personalize artillery shells, rockets, artillery guns, or planes. This 155mm shell was a $200 donation. It costs $700 to personalize an Excalibur precision-guided artillery shell. It goes all the way up to $30,000 for getting your message painted on a fighter jet.
For those of you tracking my son’s progress, he was recycled in the Ranger school pipeline. Of the 30 kids in his pre-Ranger cohort, none made it to Ranger school, and only two were offered the chance to return (“recycling”). So he’ll be coming home this week, and he’ll have time to decide whether to try the grueling process again early next year, or join his National Guard unit for an overseas deployment and worry about Ranger school later. Whatever he decides, I’m so proud of him getting as far as he did. The kid is tough.