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Global food security

Since the 2014 Crimean annexation, Russia has focused on claiming and invading the sovereign territory of Ukraine. The slow annexation of Ukraine started with the funding of Russian-backed separatist fighter groups in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s obsession with Ukraine dates back to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, as both Russia and the Soviet Union trace their founding routes back to Keivan Rus (modern-day Ukraine), which is the birthplace of Russian culture; in Putin’s mind both states are two halve of a whole separated by Western intervention.

Over the years, Putin has strategically placed his move of controlling more of Ukraine by backing separatist groups, intervening in local politics  of Ukraine and electing anti-West regimes to favour Russian interests. This war has been labelled as the biggest war in Europe after the Second World War, causing a refugee crisis of over two million Ukrainians and leading to 14,000 deaths.

During the cold war, Europe was divided through many political alliances. Eastern Europe was mostly under the control of the Soviet Union through the 1955 Warsaw pact, while western Europe joined Nato. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia lacked the power to become a regional hegemony in eastern Europe. Nato influence grew as more countries in western and eastern Europe joined the alliance. Baltic countries bordering Russia becoming members of Nato was an alarming geopolitical alliance for Russia.

Putin viewed the collective action of Nato as a threat especially when Ukraine was asked to become a member in 2013, which was countered by the pro-Russian government breaking off the deal. In February 2022, when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Putin hoped to gain control over the region, halting the rapid expansion of Western influence over eastern European countries.

Western countries gave a rather bleak reply to support Ukraine in the war as the country does not have a collective action pact with Nato members, but recently Biden announced a nearly $13 billion package of arms and equipment to support Ukraine’s cause. In addition, more troops have been placed in Nato countries, preparing for the further Russian invasion of Europe.

The impact of this war is not limited to Europe and has affected the whole world in terms of food supply. Both Russia and Ukraine account for 75 per cent of the global sunflower oil supply and about a third of the world’s wheat products. The war has restricted Ukrainian farmers to produce these products, and the ban of Ukrainian ports by Russia and sanctions on Russia by the West have disrupted the global food supply chain.

These actions have greatly impacted the food and gas supply of many European countries such as Germany. Ever since the cold war, Germany has heavily relied on Russian oil; it has paid Russia about 220 million euros a day for gas since the invasion of Ukraine began. Increased dependency on Russian state oil over the years has caused Germany to be negatively affected by the sanctions placed by the European Union against Russia.

Similarly, South Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan also rely on Ukraine and Russia for food and oil supplies. The conflict has led to a rise in international fuel prices, impacting food inflation and stagnating developing economies in South Asia, causing recession.

In 2020, Ukraine acted as the main supplier of wheat to Pakistan, exporting up to 1.2 megatons of wheat. Similarly, Russia supplied Pakistan with almost 0.92 megatons of wheat during the same year. The increased import of wheat from these countries by Pakistan shows the level of dependency on them for such a commodity and how this supply line is vulnerable due to the ongoing conflict.

The conflict has not only caused an increase in prices of essential commodities such as wheat but also impacted fuel imports, which have seen an increase in price levels. These price hikes have negatively affected Pakistan’s economy, causing inflation and economic recession. Pakistan is now put at a spot where it is essential to find alternative sources of wheat and other imported products to face the shortage, thus impacting their relationship with the buyer due to their neutral stance on the conflict on an international stage.

This supply line is detrimental to feeding the populations of those countries which are heavily dependent on Ukraine and Russia, thus leading to officials finding a counter to this crisis such as establishing alternative food supplies or predicting near-future food crises to counter them. The world now has to accept this bleak fate and capitalize on new opportunities by finding alternative sources for basic commodities and reducing its dependency on other countries for essential food supplies, as this conflict will impact everyone globally for years to come.

Email: rafaywaqar2004@gmail.com

Muhammad Rafay Waqar, "Global food security," The News. 2022-09-03.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Political alliance , Soviet union , Russia , Economic recession , World war , Sri Lanka , India , Pakistan