The war in Ukraine has demonstrated that international efforts to combat Russia are severely hampered by an uncomfortable reality: isolating the Kremlin comes with a hefty price tag. risks to global food security.
The sanctions regime against Russia has disrupted the food supply chain. As the biggest conflict in Europe since the Second World War – and is likely to last for at least a few more months – there is a need to minimize its impact on the planet’s nutritional needs.
Moscow is trying to use this growing crisis as a way to counter economic pressure to force it to end its assault on Ukraine, which, along with Russia, is one of the grain suppliers. and the largest cooking oil in the world.
In response, Western planners must devise policies that can achieve both: countering Russian aggression and averting a global food crisis. It won’t be easy, but it can be done.
Russian fertilizers – vital to farming in different parts of the world – could hold the key.
Sure enough, there was a Agreement mediated by Turkey between Russia and Ukraine has been going on since the end of July, to allow grain shipments through the Black Sea. The agreement called on both Moscow and Kyiv not to attack ships carrying necessary grain out of the war zone. However, with Russia trying to consolidate its control over eastern and southern Ukraine, and the Western-backed government of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv determined to force the aggressor’s army to withdrawing from the occupied territories, continuing access to one of the world’s bread organizations is at risk.
Russia’s war in Ukraine was aggravating a pre-existing situation where the global economy is impacted by other conflicts, climate change, rising energy costs and, most significantly, the COVID-19 pandemic. High energy prices drive up fertilizer costs, and war and sanctions jeopardize supply chains.
To avoid a major global conflict and at the same time prevent Russia from destroying Ukraine’s sovereignty, the United States and its allies and partners have relied heavily on economic and financial warfare to try to make Moscow must bend.
However, the Kremlin responded by weaponize its own grain supply and of Ukraine. While Russia may fall short of its military goals and will face growing financial stress, it can still spread that pain globally. Food shortages in developing countries and resulting political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa could prompt millions of migrants to make the perilous journey to Europe as they did during the Arab Spring. Arab and the wars in Iraq and Syria. That could be politically destabilizing in Europe, with far-right trends shifting anti-immigrant sentiment to challenge mainstream parties.
Like energy, food is a loaded gun that the Kremlin believes is holding the West’s head. However, as with oil and gas, a skillful balancing act can help the international community maintain pressure on Moscow without leading to malnutrition, famine, mass migration and a catastrophe. humanitarian.
Europe’s reliance on Russian natural gas supplies has meant the continent has had to gradually detox from that addiction in recent months, giving the Kremlin the opportunity to threaten to halt energy exports. unless the sanctions are withdrawn.
However, while finding alternative energy sources is a long-term endeavor, procuring more grain from other food-producing nations to try and reduce Russia’s leverage could be relatively easy. than. The key to that is the continuous flow of fertilizers from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus to increase crop yields around the world.
Russia, a major fertilizer exporter, Ratio 23% world ammonia, 21% potassium, 14% urea and 10% phosphate. These chemicals have the potential to increase international grain production; up to 100 million tons of wheat or 400 million tons of corn per year, based on calculations of global food consumption and the amount of fertilizer that contributes to them.
Although official fertilizers are not banned, sanctions on those with ties to Russian fertilizer companies, barriers to payment are cleared, and obstacles related to transportation are eliminated. Transition are obstacles in the way of this strategy.
Adjusting the highly targeted sanctions regime against Russia so that fertilizer circulates better won’t do much for Moscow. Russia’s revenue from fertilizer exports in 2021 is about 12.5 billion USD. That’s just a change from the Kremlin’s expected earnings from hydrocarbon exports this year: about $337 billion. On the other hand, the world would benefit enormously if farmers around the world could access these fertilizers, produce food, and thus also remove a weapon from the Kremlin’s arsenal.
Strategy and policy are about trade-offs. The cost of fighting the enemy is not creating serious crises far from the battlefield. We should avoid causing major global food insecurity. If the world agrees on tightening Russia’s oil and gas exports, the sand in the hourglass in Moscow will dry up faster and the end of the Ukraine tragedy will come closer.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial views of Al Jazeera.