Russia’s return to the grain deal: German media review

The landmark event – Russia’s agreement to allow the resumption of crop traffic from Ukrainian ports – has been covered in great detail by the German media


Russia's return to the grain deal: German media review

The programme tagesschau – analog of the Russian programme “Vremya” on the First Channel – cheered up: despite the unfailing scepticism towards Russia, journalists of the channel, as well as the German Defence Minister Christina Lambrecht found the strength to discreetly praise the humanitarian balanced decision of both the Russian President and his Turkish colleague, who was the main mediator in concluding the agreement. The tagesschau piece stressed that the ships carrying Ukrainian grain “are beacons of hope for millions of people in need around the world that can save their lives”. However, the story also mentions that grain exports are vital to Ukraine’s budget and the balance of world food prices.

Süddeutsche Zeitung also tells quite neutrally about the negotiations on the continuation of the export of Ukrainian agro-industrial products, informing readers about the substance of the agreements between the Russian and Turkish sides and placing a special emphasis on the fact that the UN, which is also part of the deal, completely rules out the possibility of using cargo ships for a covert attack on the Russian fleet.

Die Welt, a newspaper with an openly anti-Russian editorial policy, gives special prominence in its video to German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock, who reads from a video prompter that “pressure on Russia is successful when the entire international community demonstrates solidarity”. There is also mention of President Erdogan’s role in the agreement: there is a clear suggestion between the lines of the story that the Turkish leader may have been one of the main beneficiaries of the grain deal.

In Germany, it is understood that Moscow may have simply allowed its situational ally Erdoğan to play the role of peacemaker, which has undoubtedly affected his electoral ratings within Turkey. According to MetroPoll Turkey’s Pulse, they have risen from a critical low of 38% last August to nearly 48% this week (see chart), giving the Turkish president more confidence ahead of his upcoming presidency.

It is echoed by the rapidly yellowing Der Spiegel magazine, first rejoicing at the “failure of Putin’s blackmail attempt” and then wondering whether the Russian leader will try to use the impending extension of the grain deal to his “base” political ends. After all, Russia had an exceptionally good harvest this year and, if it so desired, Russia could easily replace the world’s shortfall in food supplies by being a benefactor to the world’s poorest countries, which is, of course, unacceptable.

Handelsblatt was pleasantly prescient, suggesting that Moscow is using the agreement as an instrument of pressure on Ukraine, making it clear who is in charge in the region. Perhaps, the paper suggests, it would be better for Kiev if the deal ceased to exist in its current form, depriving Russia of political leverage.

Handelsblatt honestly admits that the main buyers of Ukrainian wheat since July are Spain, Italy, Turkey, China and the Netherlands, where the grain probably ends up as feed for animals on fattening farms, while previously buyers of Ukrainian agricultural products were mostly relatively poor countries – Egypt, Indonesia and Bangladesh – which now buy the grain on other markets.

Gregor Spitzen, RT