Russia’s Criminal Invasion of Ukraine Precipitates a Global Food Crisis
Last February, just beginning the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the member countries of NATO decided to support the invaded country by supplying weapons and, simultaneously, with the implementation of economic sanctions. The objective was to drown Russia economically by isolating it from the global financial system and blocking its exports, except, partially, for energy.
Without a doubt, the sanctions in question have damaged the economy of the invading country. Nevertheless, have generated several negative side effects. The most serious is the possibility of generating a dramatic situation of global food crisis. In fact, a large part of world grain and fertilizer exports come from Russia and Ukraine: just by way of example, suffice it to mention that both countries produce approximately 35% of the world’s wheat and corn, 75% of sunflower oil and 40% of potash (key ingredient in agricultural fertilizers).
What are the causes of the growing possibility of a humanitarian crisis that aggravates and increases the current number of 800 million destitute, living on less than two dollars a day? The causes are several, all of them generated by collateral effects of the conflict.
• Interruption of the food supply of the countries involved, due to the interruption of their exports, added to the land and naval blockade of the Black Sea by the Russian armed forces. Furthermore, in a criminal action, the invading army seizes Ukrainian production and sends it to their country.
•Laying of mines in the exit area of Odessa, the main port of Ukraine
• Threat from the Russian navy to cargo ships that try to cross its blockade
•As a consequence of the foregoing, a sharp increase in prices, both for commodities agricultural and energy (especially oil). Values, in general, have more than doubled since the date of the invasion
• Restriction of the export of many countries with the purpose of accumulating stocks that could avoid future supply problems.
The skyrocketing of prices and the reduction in the supply of basic foodstuffs mainly hit emerging countries with very low per capita income and current poverty levels above 50%; whose destitute population, before the conflict, already reached the 800 million people mentioned, who live mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. It is there where the global food crisis will mostly unfold. Not only will there be an increase in the population in extreme poverty, but the situation of the millions of people who already suffer from this problem will also worsen. To have a quantitative detail of this drama, it is worth mentioning that international organizations estimate that, due to the collateral effects of the conflict, approximately 100 million people will join the universe of starving.
In order to appreciate this drama of humanitarian crisis in all its magnitude, it is enough to mention some of the characteristics of this universe of people: more than 75% live in extremely poor sanitary conditions, half do not have access to drinking water, and more than 50% is under 18 years old with severe problems of physical growth, cognitive development and illiteracy.
All this dramatic scenario is aggravated by the current world inflation, exacerbated by the rise in prices. This problem has given rise to most of the central countries beginning to implement restrictive monetary policies of raising rates and withdrawing liquidity, which, at the very least, will produce a slowdown in global growth. Therefore, the possibility of a recession should not be ruled out, something that would further aggravate the crisis.
In summary, the Russian invasion – beyond the genocide committed – is precipitating a new and serious food and humanitarian crisis (estimated to date in an increase of no less than 100 million people affected). And that crisis will deepen as long as the criminal invasion does not cease.
Unfortunately, this is how it is: the longer the conflict lasts, the greater the humanitarian and food drama, and the greater the social turbulence, migratory flows and geopolitical tensions. A final observation: it is clear that Russia is using this extremely serious scenario as a weapon of war, aimed at improving its future negotiating position.