Calling Putin’s Black Sea Bluff

Commercial vessels anchored off Istanbul's southern coast on November 2 (Photo by Charlotte Lawson)

ISTANBUL—Early Wednesday morning a ship with more than 63,000 tons of corn sailed through the Bosphorus Strait to make its way to China. The journey almost didn’t happen.

Last weekend Russia announced it would leave an agreement facilitating the passage of agricultural freight in the Black Sea, renewing fears of a global food shortage. Yet four days later, Russian officials said that the country would stick to the accord. Why didn’t this Russian gamble pay off?

What is the Black Sea Grain Initiative and how did it come about?

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