The gates of the Bosphorus straits are wide open with freighters and oil tankers go blowing horns that pierce through the heart of Istanbul. The shipment blockade imposed by Russia during the month of May never really bothered the ships plying over these waters. As Russia walks into the final days of the war with Ukraine, the blockade of shipments has turned out to be a time of great peril for countries that simply rely on Ukraine and Russia for wheat and grain exports.
Bosphorus remains open
The EU on its side has been weaving plans for building up a new corridor for food transport connecting with the Baltic Sea port in Poland. But all worries seem ceded after Bosphorus remained open to carry out shipments between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Turkey is a key regional player and the President himself has mastered the act of being servile to Vladimir Putin when the need occurred. This good gesture from Erdogan at times might have played well with the Bosphorus remaining open while the other routes grieved.
The opening of Bosphorous was also a win for Europe which ratcheted up its trade along these routes. Malta and Greece embarked on regular shipments to connect with Russia. Greece having regular shipment through this route weighs significance since it is through Athens that the Russian oil now reaches the hinterland of Europe.
After the tall talks of sanctions doing no dice with Putin, Europe went amok finding no alternative to replace Russian oil. Chancing upon the event, Greece came to Europe’s aid. Greek shipping companies have devised a smart plan to evade European sanctions. From the Russian port of Kavkaz which lies on the north of Black Sea, Greek ships have been loading oil from the Russian ships. The move effectively camouflages Russian oil.
But the storyline gets interesting with the limelight back on Turkey and Greece. Seeing how Athens subtly managed to move along the Bosphorus got Turkey fuming. So there happened the slow offensive from Erdogan in the form of threats. Ankara called on Greece to withdraw its clout from the Aegean islands, warning Turkey will challenge the status of the islands if it fails to do so.
“The agreements are there but Greece is violating them. It’s arming them. If Greece does not stop this violation, the sovereignty of the islands will be brought up for discussion,” he said. “It’s that clear. You will abide by the agreements.” quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Aegean back in News
Erdogan seeing things through a myopic lens may lend him a feeling that it’s quite heroic of him to use the Bosphorus as a bargaining chip to wrest control of the disputed Aegean islands. But in reality, the wannabe Khalifa is doing a bigger mess of things with his redundant tactics.
Greece has always managed to keep Russia in good humour and it is well evident with the burgeoning Greek business within the Russian megalopolises. When it was in need of Europe to resort solely to Russia, Greece tried to muzzle out a way to help Europe by transporting Russian oil.
With Erdogan employing his famed dilatory tactics, it won’t be Greece that will roar back at Ankara, but it will be Russia. Even though acting cool despite the crisis, the sanctions imposed on Russia have indeed got the nerves of Vladimir Putin. But the catharsis happened with Greece taking up the initiative to export the Russian oil to Europe.
On its part, Europe has continued to import oil from Russia in different ways despite all the hullabaloo about banning it. It’s taking a major chunk of oil from ‘Druzhba Pipeline’ while maintaining the preface of the embargo.
Erdogan suddenly seems to have got a leeway to build up the old feud of Aegeans with Greece. But it’s high time the president should realize that with such a move, Russia will further get close to Europe and it will be Erdogan who will be made a comic who further needs more than one phone call to the Kremlin to set things right.