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Tom Arms’ World Review

Ukraine

The Ukraine war has resulted in the world facing a shortage of every grain product and the prospect of widespread starvation in the developing world and spiralling food prices in the developed.

Shortages of corn and wheat – Ukraine and Russia’s two biggest grain exports – have increased demand for that other major grain product – rice. This has led India to ban exports of non-basmati rice “to ensure adequate domestic availability at reasonable prices.” India exports 40 percent of the world’s rice.

To compound the problem other major rice producing countries – Thailand, Pakistan and Vietnam – have all suffered bad harvests this year due to deteriorating weather conditions.

But back to Ukraine where Vladimir Putin has ended the Turkish-brokered deal to allow grain ships past the Russian blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. He followed that up with a devastating drone attack on Izmail which handles about a quarter of Ukraine’s grain exports. An estimated 40,000 metric tonnes of grain bound for Africa, China and Israel was destroyed and the port has been closed indefinitely. Since withdrawing from the grain deal on 27 July, Russia has destroyed an estimated 200,000 metric tonnes of grain as well as civilian ships, port facilities and grain storage silos.

It should also be noted that Ukraine’s Izmail is at the mouth of the Danube and on the opposite bank is NATO member Romania.

Putin

Vladimir Putin has weaponised food. He has created a worldwide shortage and is now using access to Russian-produced grain to blackmail/bribe selected countries.

This was obvious at the recent Russia-Africa Summit in St Petersburg where he promised free grain to carefully selected African countries. Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Eritrea and the Central African Republic have all been rewarded for their support at the UN and links with the Wagner Group.

The summit, however, was not the big success Putin hoped for. The last such gathering was in 2019 when 45 African leaders turned up in Sochi. This time only 27 made the trip north to Russia’s Baltic port.

The drop in numbers was largely due to Putin’s failure to deliver on his promises. In 2019 Russia promised to quadruple direct investment in Africa. But since then it has dropped by two thirds and now represents only one percent of the total inflow of Sub-Saharan Africa’s capital investment.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 38 Comments
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