Putin ‘will face wrath of NATO and Turkey’ if Russia targets grain ships

Ukraine marine drone strikes Russia’ Black Sea fleet

Russia will “face the wrath of NATO and Turkey” should it harass vessels carrying shipments of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, regardless of the Kremlin’s decision to pull the plug on a landmark deal enabling exports to Africa, an expert has predicted.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin, would suspend the Black Sea Grain Initiative until its demands to get its own food and fertiliser to the world are met.

The suspension marks the end of an accord, which the UN and Turkey brokered last summer, to allow food to leave the Black Sea region after Russia’s invasion of its neighbour worsened a global food crisis. The initiative is credited with helping lower soaring prices of wheat, vegetable oil and other food commodities.

Peskov’s announcement sent wheat prices soaring, with the Chicago Board of Trade’s most active contract up spiking by seven percent at $6.89 (£5.28) a bushel as of 10am today.

Nevertheless, in an op-ed written for Express.co.uk, Alp Sevimlisoy, a Millennium Fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington who specialises in NATO’s role within the Mediterranean region, argued Russia would think twice about backing up its rhetoric with action.

READ MORE Putin’s threat to Black Sea grain just made him a very dangerous new enemy

He said: “The Turkish Armed Forces are the supreme power within its sphere of influence encompassing the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, North Africa and the Balkans, whereby the emergence of Turkish military prowess and its supremacy over foes such as the Russian Federation, came vis-a-vis the valiant campaign lead by Ukrainian forces against the Kremlin.

“The Turkish Armed Forces and the Turkish Republic now being a pan-continental power is a strength for Ankara, the United States, the United Kingdom and NATO.

“A stronger Turkey enables a stronger NATO. The Turkish Armed Forces and the Turkish Navy possess full operational control and supremacy in the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean.

“Hence with regard to the Grain Deal as relations between Turkey and Ukraine have reached levels of a military pact, the Turkish Republic, one of the most powerful member states of NATO, will be able to resume grain shipments together with Kiev whereby the Kremlin would face the wrath of both Ankara and NATO if it dared to even cause minor disruption to any convoys.”

The Turkish armed forces were now well equipped to stand up to Russia, Mr Sevimlisoy pointed out.

He explained: “The introduction of the Altay Main Battle Tank into the Turkish military inventory will also enable the Land Forces of Turkey to additionally push against Russian forces in theatres where Turkish strategic victories are to be maintained.

“The Turkish Armed Forces stands steadfast to counter both external threats be it those that seek to harm the rules based established international order as per the Kremlin and Beijing as well as internationally outlawed groups, whereby Sweden is expected to turn over said groups as they pose a threat to both its own national security and that of Turkey’s security.

“The leadership of the Turkish Armed Forces sees its most indispensable allies as the United States, the United Kingdom and the State of Israel at present which regard to the importance placed on mutual defence policy topics.

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Since the days of the Ottoman Empire and throughout the Cold War, Turkey had always held the Kremlin to account, Mr Sevimlisoy continued.

“Turkey sees Ukraine as its direct military ally and as the Turkish Army, Turkish Air Force and Turkish Navy have become one of the most operationally active fighting forces in NATO, making themselves invaluable to the Transatlantic alliance.”

He also encouraged the UK to work closely with Turkey on matters of security, saying: “The British Armed Forces are also the route within which the United Kingdom continues to emerge as a pan-regional power post-Brexit.

“By partnering with the Turkish Armed Forces, with military ties flourishing over the past few years between both countries, the Royal Navy, the British Army and the Royal Air Force can project its influence abroad whilst attaining mutual security objectives securing both Britain’s national interests and that of allies such as the Armed Forces of the Republic of Turkey which is now a Pan-Continental power in its own right.

“Both militaries are well placed to create joint VJTF orientated (Very High Readiness Joint Task Force) unites comprising of the troops of each in order to counter threats across the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.

“And further, by enabling the provision of F-35s and separately the allocation of Eurofighters to Ankara, we shall see the continued elevation in ties for both countries spanning shared defence policies, cooperative intelligence functions and industry such that any foes of either will face the joint might of both nations.”

Speaking today, Peskov said: “When the part of the Black Sea deal related to Russia is implemented, Russia will immediately return to the implementation of the deal.”

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky’s adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, dismissed his words as political grandstanding.

He said: “The statement itself immediately includes an escape clause. Therefore, we are dealing with classic public techniques of the Russian Federation that no longer require significant reciprocal reactions.”

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